Saturday, July 20, 2024

Sleigh Hunger Christmas in July Food Drive Aims to Combat Food Insecurity

WILLIAMSBURG — Hoping to fill the local food pantries, the second annual Christmas in July Drive-Thru Food Drive at Williamsburg Habitat for Humanity ReStore to benefit Grove Christian Outreach Center and Williamsburg House of Mercy was held on Tuesday, July 25.
“The number of pounds collected at [the] food drive is down from what we were hoping to see. Last year the community donated just over 7,500 pounds of food that was equally split between Grove Christian Outreach Center and Williamsburg House of Mercy,” said Katie Patrick, Executive Director of Grove Christian Outreach.
Patrick said that this year, the drive just approached 1,000 pounds of non-perishable foods collected.
Hunger and food insecurity are not based on seasons. Local food pantries stated they see dips in donations as summer months mean vacations and more time away from “normal” activities.
“There is no rhyme or reason to why some food drives yield smaller results while others see big turnouts. What we do know is that vulnerable families are turning to food pantries more often and we must be able to accommodate these visits,” Patrick continues, “Summer months tend to be the most difficult season for food insecure families. For some, it is because children are home from school and there are extra meals to prepare. For many, it is the state of the economy that keeps individuals struggling to make ends meet while trying to keep food on their plates.”
The state of the economy has made keeping pantry shelves full even more of a challenge. As a four-year Grove Outreach volunteer, Dougie Winthrop said, “The need has increased and will continue to increase as we see new families come in. The pantry has been emptier than I have ever seen it.”
“Food insecurity doesn’t take a vacation, and at Grove Christian Outreach Center we will continue seeking ways to ensure no adult, senior or child goes hungry,” stated Patrick. “The Fresh Food Room at the Outreach Center provides an abundant selection of free, fresh produce for families living in a food desert, and we strive to keep the food pantry shelves stocked with enough volume and variety for the nearly 200 households seeking assistance each week.”
While the Christmas in July food drive was only a single-day event, both Grove Christian Outreach and Williamsburg House of Mercy accept donations year around.
According to the Grove Christian Outreach webpage, some of its greatest needs are for both hot and cold cereal, rice,  spaghetti sauce, pasta, canned vegetables, juice and baby food.
Doland Miller, also known as Santa, spends his time volunteering with Grove Outreach to bring awareness and assist where he can with his wife, Laura. Miller said, “I volunteer because it is important to feed our community.”
The need for food and other support among the local food pantry organizations is greater than it has ever been. To donate or volunteer, reach out to your nonprofit of choice.
Grove Christian Outreach Center can be found on the web at groveoutreach.com.

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