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First mobile food pantry rolls into Coffee County

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Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 7:57 am | Updated: 8:16 am, Wed Nov 7, 2018.

“God did this,” Leda Green said, smiling as she looked across the New Brockton Farm Center parking lot filled curb to curb with cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes. “He just put me where I need to be.”

Where Green “needed to be” early this October morning was directing volunteers helping some 450 people who signed up to receive some 14 tons of food brought to the New Brockton Farm Center Pavilion by Wiregrass Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry.

Green is the director of the New Brockton Senior Citizen Center. She is the catalyst behind the first-ever mobile food distribution in Coffee County Oct. 30. “It was a team effort,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

A New Brockton native, Green is a retired nurse who returned to her hometown with her now-retired military husband from Minnesota.

“God just laid this out,” Green said explaining that the idea of contacting the Wiregrass Food Bank about bringing a mobile pantry to the county came from one of the center’s members who had participated in another county.

Green brought the mobile food pantry idea to New Brockton Mayor Kathy Holley, who brought the idea to the Coffee County Commission. The commission approved use of the farm center pavilion once a month for a year for food distribution so Green asked local churches if they would help sponsor the cost of the food from the Wiregrass Food Bank.

Wooten Chapel Assembly of God, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church and Damascus, Bethany and Greater Springfield Baptist Churches volunteered to sponsor and financially support what came to be called the Coffee County Community Church Mobile Food Pantry. “I was amazed that the churches were so quick to come on board with this,” Green said.

Wiregrass Area Food Bank Executive Director David Hanks explained that the food bank is a non-profit hunger relief agency serving Houston, Henry, Dale, Coffee, Geneva and Barbour counties. It is a member of the Feeding America National Food Bank Network.

The area food bank operates a warehouse through corporate and individual donations and by networking with other food banks nationwide.

A shared maintenance fee assessed to participating agencies helps to support the food bank. Additional financial support is from churches, civic clubs, businesses and citizens, Hanks said. As a result, he stressed, member non-profit agencies that use the food bank are able to run their food programs in a cost-effective manner.

When the Wiregrass Food Bank Food Pantry Truck rolled into the New Brockton Farm Center Pavilion, 14 tons of food on some 20 pallets were unloaded and stacked by volunteers. Cars then drove in line on either side of the stacked palettes as volunteers loaded up to 100 pounds of food into each recipient’s vehicle.

Hanks said he welcomes organizations interested in more information about becoming agency partners to contact him at Member agencies must serve the hungry or other special needs group; distribute food directly to clients in the form of meals or packaged food boxes for emergency use; may not charge clients for food received or meals served; provide adequate, clean food storage; and must be a recognized church or a tax exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) charity.

Although registration for the Coffee County mobile pantry was through the senior center, people did not need to be senior citizens to apply. “We’ve been registering for a month through the New Brockton Senior Citizen Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until noon,” Green said. “We cut registration off Oct. 27 so we could make a master list.

“When we came back to this area I said I just want to do something for the community,” Green said. “So I went to work as the director for the senior citizen center.

“God gave me a gift to do this so that’s what I do,” Green said with a smile. “It’s a blessing the way it all fell in place.

“When I got here at 5 a.m., there were already two lines of cars waiting,” Green said, adding that food delivery was expected near 10 a.m. “I believe it shows clearly that ‘need’ does exist.”

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