Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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River Road Food Pantry

 

How Did We Get Here?

 In early 2014 - Lance Barton, then Director of the Northern Neck Food Bank, approached Torrence Harman, then rector of SMWC, about the possibility of opening a “Mobile” (Temporary) Pantry for the Upper part of Lancaster County – particularly along the River Road corridor.  It was estimated that about 50 households or 100 people already registered with the Food Bank would be served by the Mobile pantry as they were traveling approximately 50 miles roundtrip to a pantry in White Stone who could no longer serve them due to the stress it was putting on their operation.

 Representatives from the following area churches were invited to an organizational meeting to see if they had an interest in this venture:

•           SMWC Episcopal*                                •           Trinity Episcopal*

•           Hartswell Baptist*                                 •           Queen Esther Baptist*

•           Corrottoman Baptist*                            •           Bethel United Methodist

•           Emmanuel United Methodist                 •           Beulah Baptist

 After a six month trial period, the River Road Food Pantry became a permanent operation supported financially and/or by volunteers from the above churches. In addition to a monthly stipend paid by the five churches denoted with an asterisk, the pantry periodically receives donations from other the churches, church fund raisers, community groups, a community business, and individuals who wish to support this outreach ministry. The River Road Food Pantry is one of 24 area food pantries and was one the first to use combined resources of several area churches for its operation. This model of success is now used throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.

   

 

 

Food Pantry volunteers readying food for Food Pantry clients

     


  Where Are We Now?

 In June 2015, the River Road Food Pantry obtained USDA Certification meaning that we receive some free food from the Federal Government in addition to the food that we purchase from the Northern Neck Food Bank.  Becoming a USDA pantry helped cut our food costs nearly in half.  The food pantry is open on the second Thursday of each month from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for clients. Clients receive mixed dry goods, fresh produce, fresh meat, and bakery items.  We serve an average of 100 families a month which represents over 300 people. The only qualifier used for eligibility is household income. Nearly half of our clients are senior citizens who are not eligible for government assistance programs. Many of our volunteers are also clients. Each month, about 30 volunteers show up at 11:00 a.m. on pantry day to off-load the food delivered by the Northern Neck Food Bank, sort it, bag it, and stage it before the doors open. Once the clients arrive, volunteers help them select food and transport it to their cars.

 The River Road Food Pantry is an important outreach ministry. Not only does it provide food for the hungry, but it has provided connections and relationships to people who lived next door to each other for years, yet never knew one another.  In bringing together folks from predominately white churches and predominately black churches, our volunteers and clients have learned to know and trust each other on a human level. This is truly one of the greatest successes of the River Road Food Pantry.