Cooleemee food pantry getting its own building

Published 8:49 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

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By KC Smith

Cooleemee Correspondent

On Aug. 13, Food Lion presented a check for $2,500 to the Cooleemee Community Food Pantry at at First Baptist Church.

Tajma Hartsell, store manager and James Peoples, assistant store manager, both from Food Lion on US 601 South in Mocksville presented the check.

Food Lion’s mission is to feed people.  They like to stay within the local community.

Paula Campbell, executive director of the pantry, applied for the grant to receive monies to help with cost of buying food.

“It was very shocking and awesome and we were very happy,” Campbell said.

A private donation was made to help build a building for the pantry.  Currently the pantry is in the basement of First Baptist in Cooleemee.  The church is allowing the new building to be built on their adjacent property beside the church.

Volunteers will be building the building and should be completed by end of this year.

Campbell applied for another grant to Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston Salem and was awarded $50,000. That money will go toward purchasing, shelving, an electric power jack, walk in cooler, refrigerator and other needed items.

Around 2016, Sherry McKnight, guidance counselor at Cooleemee Elementary, was concerned about certain families not having enough to eat.

With a food pantry in mind, she gathered with several business people from Mocksville to discuss logistics and after much discussion, proposed the challenge to churches in Cooleemee.

First Baptist had the space and faith to act on the challenge.  That was March of 2018.

The food pantry is open every Thursday each month:  every other week for families, and every other week for children at Cooleemee School.

Families come to the church parking lot around back and someone will come out with provisions for three days.  Families are required to wear a mask, stay in the car and must fill out a form.

Sherry McKnight chooses children’s families from the school that are in need and this is process is handled anonymously.

Roger Ireland and Ronnie Chapman travel to Second Harvest in Thomasville every week to pick up food.  The most they pay is 19 cents per pound, which includes, bread, meat, fruit and vegetables.  The rest is free.

Approximately 20 to 30 families visit the pantry each week.

Campbell says this small group of volunteers spends a lot of time on this project.  It’s hard work, a lot gets done but also a lot of fun, she says.

“We are in good shape right now, but when we move to the other building we will be responsible for all utilities. We will be official a 5013C any day now.”

Feel free to go to Cooleemee Community Food Pantry Facebook page with questions.