Food bank needs are constant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Local food banks were busy distributing yesterday morning, and food bank workers say they are in constant need of donations.

Volunteer Paula Kelly said that the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Christ the King Catholic Church has seen an increase in the amount of people visiting the church for assistance.

“We had more than 50 clients just this morning (Monday),” St. Vincent de Paul volunteer Paula Kelley said. “We started this program 10 years ago and it’s been picking up ever since.”

Leroy Cole, church and community ministries director for the Covington Baptist Association, said their program stays consistent all year long in the three Covington County Christian Service Centers.

“Out of all three centers, we’re seeing about 750 families a month,” Cole said. “In Andalusia, our largest distribution center, we can serve between 50 to 80 families in a single day, but on average we feed 60 families a day.”

Rector Cindy Howard said St. Mary’s Episcopal Church has served more than 12,000 pounds of food this year.

“Each month we distribute three pounds of rice, two pounds of dried beans, a bag of canned goods and a loaf of bread,” Howard said. “Last month we served around 125 families.”

More than 20.9 percent of Covington County residents have a household income below the federal poverty line ($23,850 in household income for a family of four), according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012.

Many of these families do not have access to adequate, nutritious food, and with the holiday season quickly approaching, local food banks and distributors are really in need of supplies.

“Any little thing helps,” Kelley said. “It’s the holiday season and we know people need help.”

Cole said the CBC food banks distribute more than 8,000 pounds of food per week from the three centers and are in constant need of items to replenish their stock.

Staples needed include:

• canned vegetables and fruits;

• peanut butter and jelly;

• canned spaghetti or ravioli;

• non-perishables, like rice, beans, macaroni;

• canned meats, like SPAM, canned beef, canned pork, and potted meat;

• soups, like chicken-noodle soup;

• bags and boxes of rice, pasta and macaroni;

• dry and canned beans; and

• cereals, like Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Honey-nut Cheerios.

Kelly said St. Paul’s even distributes fresh meats.

Cole said there isn’t anything they won’t distribute in food items, but it’s harder to distribute large items.

“The thing that causes the most problems is the large cans of items,” Cole said. “Unless I find a large family it’s hard to give away the restaurant sized items. A one pound item can feed a family easier than a five-pound item; smaller is better than larger.”

The Christian Service Center is open for donations Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Christ the King Catholic Church is open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The lobby of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is always unlocked, and baskets are there for people to leave donations. Financial contributions are also welcome.