As many people look to find sources of food, St. Olaf’s Food Pantry is helping to fill the gap.
During the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people have lost their jobs and are looking to for assistance in various basic needs such as food. To address this need, the St. Olaf Food Pantry in Norge is serving residents in the upper area of James City County, according to an email from director Donna Hamilton.
“There is never any qualifying, all are welcome,” she said.
Hamilton added in the email the St. Olaf Food Pantry is the only pantry serving the upper county area.
The pantry typically serves about 500 to 600 people each month and has seen a continuing increase in need from the community, Hamilton said. But she said the upper county is often an overlooked area and people in the location are in more need than ever.
“We have a lot of new clients coming that have never been to a food pantry before,” she said. “And right now they’re a little embarrassed to ask for help, but we don’t judge and try to welcome everyone.”
As many food donation providers struggle to handle the influx of new clients, the food pantry at St. Olaf has had to look to donations from the community to fulfill the growing need.
In a Facebook posts on March 31 and April 9, St. Olaf Catholic Church said the pantry was not able to order food from its regular sources. Hamilton said previously the pantry would use donation money from parishioners and buy food from Food Lion and Dollar Tree, but the stores no longer have the capability.
Instead, the pantry participated in multiple food drives with other organizations and reached out to its congregation to ask for various donations.
“Now we have more food than we know what to do with,” Hamilton said.
Since the post, the pantry has found itself in better shape. A follow-up Facebook post on April 15 stated, “Due to your generosity the St. Olaf Food Pantry is financially sound and very well stocked.”
While the pantry currently has supplies, Hamilton said they’ll never turn away any additional donations. Donations come into the pantry through a different door than the main entrance and are immediately sanitized, she said.
Clients are asked to call ahead of time and speak with a volunteer during operating hours so that food bags can be prepared ahead of time.
The pantry is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information on how to donate or receive services, visit the St. Olaf Food Pantry online.
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