SEPTEMBER 22, 2018
By Emily McLamb
With seven counties in its service area, Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina is on the ground, wheels traveling in all directions.
The same areas hit hard during Hurricane Matthew two years ago are severely damaged again – and now with more added to the list. Learning from their past relief response, staff at the organization is in constant communication with retailers, local nonprofits, and member agencies.
Second Harvest has over 260 member agencies throughout Bladen, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson and Sampson counties. These churches and small nonprofit groups act as the hands of the food bank, which distributes supplies to each agency regularly to meet the needs of their respective communities. Those agencies create opportunities for those without food and supplies to come to one location for relief – often sponsoring mobile food pantry distributions in which Second Harvest brings a refrigerated truck full of boxed goods.
Escorted by volunteers with the Fort Bragg Hog Chapter on Friday, September 22, the mobile pantry set sights for Riegelwood in largely-rural Bladen County.
Even before the mobile food pantry had set up its tables, one woman sat in the back of her van, trunk open for shade. Almost instinctively, the line formed behind her.
“Everyone calls me Stella,” she began as volunteers recorded the information of those in line. At nearly 84, Stella claims the honor of the eldest woman in the community. As they arrived, people of all decades smiled or offered a hello to her.
A largely matriarchal community, the people of Riegelwood are tied together by generations of support. Organizers of the event at the East Arcadia Senior Citizens Association – a member agency with Second Harvest – spread word through its community grapevine of elders. In just two hours, more than 100 individuals were met with familiar faces and were able to take home a large box loaded with essentials: water bottles, two loaves of bread, canned fruits and vegetables, and even fresh meat off the refrigerated mobile pantry.
“I’m just happy to do all I can,” said Troy Snowden, his t-shirt drenched in sweat from carrying disaster boxes to and fro in the afternoon sun.
It’s that attitude and collaboration that helps the food bank during times of disaster. With full hearts and free hands, each community’s network comes together to lend their neighbors a hand up and ensure no person goes hungry.