Three times each week, volunteers from the Harvest Bible Church's Helping Hands and Harvest Food Bank in Elizabeth make a trip across town to Walmart.
And three times a week, they come away with a load of fresh produce and canned goods — around …
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And three times a week, they come away with a load of fresh produce and canned goods — around 75,000 pounds of food each year.
“This isn't spoiled food. This is produce: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and hams and turkeys,” said Robert Rowland, Elbert County commissioner, and food bank volunteer at a special presentation to recognize Walmart's contribution to the community during a Board of County Commissioners meeting on March 29. “It allows us, through our church food bank, to serve those folks in a way that is just critical to our friends and neighbors in the community.”
The food bank has been in existence since the church's founding 19 years ago and last year provided food to more than 2,000 people.
“Walmart is a fantastic company to partner with Helping Hands and Harvest Food Bank,” said Chris Burnett, volunteer. “Their employees that work the back, they process the food to us. They're just phenomenal people. We're very blessed as a church to have them as our partner.”
Bennet said that the 75,000 pounds of food donated last year only accounted for what was weighed, and estimated the actual weight, including canned goods, to be 20 percent higher.
Jim Kimbriel, pastor of Harvest Bible Church, said that over the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of people using the food bank. Historically, he has seen increases in times of economic downturns, but this year has seen a significant growth in traffic.
“It's almost doubled in the last year,” he said. “I think a lot of that is we've had more people that are connected with the county, like Robert Rowland… He finds people who are getting assistance through other programs and he directs them toward the food bank.”
According to Kimbriel, the donations by Walmart reach across communities. The food bank distributes around one-third of the food collected and delivers the surplus to other agencies in and out of Elbert County that have a need.
At the presentation, Kimbriel read the dedication inscribed on a plaque presented to Walmart Store Manager, Tim Tribby:
“Helping Hands of Elizabeth Food Bank recognizes the support of Elizabeth Walmart. Thank you for partnering with us to serve the needs of our community.”
“People come through our doors, every Monday Wednesday and Friday,” Kimbriel said. “They have something to walk away with that will help sustain them, because you are kind and generous as a corporate sponsor to our whole community, so thank you. Thank you very much.”
The Helping Hands of Harvest Food Bank is located at 826 S Elbert Street, Elizabeth, near Running Creek Elementary school and is open from 9 to 11 a.m. every Monday Wednesday and Friday to anyone in need.
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