Each month, about 75 volunteers at the Thomas County Food Bank and Outreach Center on North Broad Street serve 3,000 local individuals who are in need of emergency assistance. The Food Bank provides much needed food staples, blankets, and coats to clients who meet the eligibility requirements. To better serve those in need, the Food Bank volunteer-led board of directors is launching a capital campaign to fund a modest expansion of the Food Bank facility in 2014.
“Our volunteers have managed remarkably well in our small space,” said Janice Anderson, Food Bank President. “However, expanding our space will allow us to serve clients much more efficiently and provide better storage for the several thousand pounds of food and hundreds of coats and blankets that are housed and donated from our facility each week.”
Anderson said the expansion is badly needed so that the Food Bank can continue providing for the most needy families in Thomas County.
Since its founding in 1998, the Food Bank has served as a collection agency to help those in our community who are in need and many area families have been served by the totally volunteer organization. The Food Bank is housed in a former convenience store across the street from the First United Methodist Church. The church bought the property and a volunteer committee determined the need for a food bank.
Maryline Smith, who led the volunteer effort to establish the Food Bank, said that the group found our community had no organization that could monitor needs and offer help when families and individuals fell on difficult times. Smith said, “Although First United Methodist Church members continue as a vital part of the volunteer force, our volunteers today come from across the community and include individuals from many local churches and civic groups as well as caring individuals who want to offer help to our clients. We provide a much needed service that helps keep food on the table for people who have fallen, often without any forewarning, onto desperate times due to a lost job or serious illness or other circumstance.”
Smith, after 15 years of leadership, recently turned the operational duties for the Food Bank over to Anderson. Smith continues to serve on the board of directors for the Food Bank and continues as a volunteer.
Providing an update on recent help provided to Thomas County residents in need, Anderson said during October, the Food Bank gave 1,500 coats, 700 blankets and more than 20,000 pounds of food to 3,000 individuals whose circumstances qualify them for emergency support from the Food Bank.
“All that we give is available because of the generosity of our donors,” Anderson said. “Local churches, civic clubs, schools, businesses, and other organizations as well as several hundred individuals donate funds, food, coats, and blankets that allow us to provide help to those in need.”
Each week, Food Bank volunteers order groceries from local grocers and Second Harvest, pick up donated items from food companies, interview clients, update client files, fill grocery orders, bag orders, deliver groceries to the clients’ vehicles, and also keep careful records of total client visits and the extensive reports required by the regulatory guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Nutrition Assistance Program and Second Harvest.
“Our volunteers often are the only friendly, caring voice the client may hear. Many of our clients are lonely, disabled, in overall poor health, concerned about the future, have significant family issues, children with special needs and, far too often, no real home. Although we cannot provide social services support, we do offer clients resource lists that can help them find other support that may be needed,” Anderson continued.
Food Bank clients are screened carefully and are required to provide updated and correct information each week to be sure their situation has not changed. Clients sign a document verifying their information is correct.
Anderson said the Food Bank Board of Directors and the volunteer core join her in thanking all those who offer support for the Food Bank’s operations and inviting current and new supporters to contribute to the capital campaign, which will enable the organization to continue to help families and individuals in our community who are in need of food, coats, or blankets.
Thomas County Food Bank and Outreach Center, Inc., is a 501C organization. Those wishing to donate to the expansion project should mail donations to Thomas County Food Bank, P.O. Box 2422, Thomasville, Georgia 31799. Donors should note whether contributions are for the expansion project or for the ongoing operation of the Food Bank. Those with questions regarding the Food Bank should e-mail the organization at FoodBank2422@aol.com.