Food program fills gap for many

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 20, 2013

Volunteers Bill Law and Paul Ratliff stock the shelves in the food pantry Wednesday.

Volunteers Bill Law and Paul Ratliff stock the shelves in the food pantry Wednesday.

Food. It’s a basic necessity, but it’s still one that local residents struggle to provide their families with every day.

Proof of that is seen standing in lines each week at the county’s three Christian Service Centers in Andalusia, Opp and Florala.

In the Andalusia line Wednesday was Luz Malave, a New Jersey native who’s lived in Andalusia for nearly a year. She depends on the Christian Service Center’s food distribution program to help feed her four children ranging in age from 11 to 24.

“At the end of the month, when there’s nothing left in the cabinet, that’s when I come,” Malave said. “What they have here saves us. I thank the Lord they have it.”

In Andalusia, food is distributed twice a week. During the week of June 3, The CSC gave 3,680 pounds of food to 347 people. Of those, 58 were age 60 or older and 136 were under the age of 18. During that same period last year, 1,440 pounds of food were distributed to 123 people – 23 age 60 or older and 37 under the age of 18.

Volunteer Bill Law mans the registration desk. He said the number of clients will continue to rise.

“You would be amazed at who comes through the door,” Law said. “We see a lot of elderly people caring for the grandchildren these days. We give each person 15 pounds of food of whatever we have, and they’re grateful for it.”

The mission purchases food from a Mobile food bank each month, and accepts donations from area residents. The recent “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service helped to fill the shelves locally.

Frozen meat and breads are donated by the local Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart stores, he said.

“But all of that will run out, and we’ll be bare again,” he said of the pantry.

Law said purchases inside the stores help cover the food purchase costs.

“That $2 blouse you buy, will go to by that much food,” he said.

And that’s the idea the Rev. Leroy Cole of the Covington Baptist Association, the stores’ sponsoring agency, wants the public to know.

“We sponsor 10 total ministries, including food distribution,” he said. “We also do a counseling ministry, disaster relief response, assist with Crossover Ministries, and do mission partnerships in other locations around the nation and overseas.

“We want people to understand that the service centers are not just a thrift store,” he said. “It’s a ministry.”