Food stamp cuts put run on bank

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2013

Leroy Cole on Wednesday points out the food in the Andalusia Christian Service Center that he said would all be gone by the day’s end.

Leroy Cole on Wednesday points out the food in the Andalusia Christian Service Center that he said would all be gone by the day’s end.

The Covington Baptist Association’s Christian Service Centers provide roughly 25,000 pounds of food per month for local families, and they need the public’s support as needs are expected to increase.

Leroy Cole, church and community ministries director for the Covington Baptist Association, said he expects the number of families in need to rise higher in the coming months, as the holidays approach and cuts in Alabama’s food stamp program go into effect.

“We stay busy regardless,” Cole said. “But we do anticipate more people coming to receive assistance.”

Cole said, while this year’s numbers have decreased slightly, the ministry distributed an estimated 246,000 pounds of food in 2012. Cole said, even with those large numbers, the center is only able to supplement when it comes to the amount of food a typical family needs each month.

“We currently have around 650 families that we help each month,” he said. “We usually give out about five pounds of food per person in the family, but it doesn’t always work out to exactly that.”

Cole said a huge part of the ministry’s success is community support, including people that volunteer and shop in any of their three service centers.

“Our service centers are not thrift stores,” he said. “The sales from the stores give us revenue to purchase food. We are also completely made up of volunteers here. We have probably 100 or so per month.”

Cole said the ministry, which receives food twice a month from the Bay Area Food Bank, is open to local residents.

“People have to be income eligible,” Cole said. “They can come in and interview and get food once a month.”

Eligible families can pick up their food Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Cole said he typically stocks his shelves to maximum capacity on each distribution day, only to have an empty storeroom at the day’s end.

As the holidays approach, Cole said the biggest thing people can do to help the CBA’s ministry is to donate food.

“Anytime people can bring food donations to us, that helps us keep up the supply on our shelves,” Cole said. “I can’t keep enough food to keep up with the demand.”

Cole said he wants people to realize that a minimum amount of effort could make a maximum difference for local families that rely on the food bank.

“When you are buying your groceries, if you’ll just buy five extra cans of vegetables or things like that, that will go a long way to help families,” Cole said. “It will make a real difference.”