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Feeding The Hungry

Five years ago, Kermit Bailey, then deacon of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension on Fork-Bixby Road in the Fork community, had the site named as a food pantry for Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem.

Volunteers from the church would pick up food at Second Harvest to be distributed at Cornatzer and Cooleemee elementary schools through the “Book Bags for Hope” program.

Four area churches assisted with cash: Fork Baptist, Liberty United Methodist, Bixby Presbyterian and Mocks Methodist.

Each eligible student received a bag of food on Friday afternoons in their bookbags, to take home for weekend meals.

Four years ago, Bailey and Pastor Wesley Cook of Davie Baptist Church extended the Book Bag program by expanding the food pantry to provide boxes of groceries to needy families.

When Bailey died, Cook took over as director of the pantry. Food boxes are distributed four days a month to about 150 families, reaching 500 individuals.

Volunteer drivers use their own vehicles, pick up food from Second Harvest on eight days each month to keep the pantry shelves stocked.

In a typical month, 6,000 pounds of food are transported. Half is donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state – so no fees can be charged. The remainder of the food comes from excess inventory at local grocery stores. The salvage food from Second Harvest comes with a 19 cents per pound levy, about a $700 monthly cost to the local pantry.

By law, non-profits must reimburse volunteer drivers the expense of fuel and vehicle maintenance. That adds another $400 to monthly costs.

“The dilemma facing the Church of the Ascension is that the number of families who are petitioning for food is increasing, while the cash donations are falling behind,” said Roy Anderson. “Ascension depends on the tax-deductible checks from individuals and institutions to satisfy this urgent need.”

In 2012, the Mocksville Lions Club included the pantry as one of its service recipients, making large donations to the cause.

The church also works with A Storehouse for Jesus, which has donated food and freezer space. “This cooperation with Storehouse is especially appropriate, because in many cases, the same people are served by both,” Anderson said.