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Lawrenceville UMC Food Bank

On the second Friday of each month we have a drive through food pantry in the parking lot behind the church. Register from your car and you are given a box of food: frozen meats, fresh produce, and dried goods. Second Tuesday of each month  we have a senior citizen food pantry from the church: pick up or delivery. Register at the church phone number (434-848-2320) and a food pantry person will contact you. Food is handed out at other times as needed via referrals from social services.

Twenty-five years ago, a very small emergency food closet was housed at the Brunswick County Department of Social Services for individuals in dire need of food for their families. The food was stored on shelving Billy Harrison built as his Boy Scout Eagle Project with BSA Troop 221. A few individuals at Lawrenceville United Methodist Church felt the need to help meet the hunger issues many families were experiencing and asked about expanding the food pantry and requested it to move to the church.

A room in the basement of the church was designated and with the help of BSA Troop 221 boy scouts the shelves and canned goods were moved to the Church. Four retired women of the church agreed to manage all aspects of the food closet: accepting referrals from the Department of Social Services, pulling together bags of food to those in need, stocking the shelves when food was donated, purchasing food if needed and writing articles for the newspaper asking for donations. Our four champions were: Betty Woofter, Martha Blick, Gail Thomas and  Mabel Brewer. Monthly they assisted approximately 25 households a month. The DSS social worker could call Monday-Friday to refer an individual or family for assistance and these ladies responded.

Over time these women could no longer manage carrying the heavy bags of food up the stairs and the food closet was moved to the main floor of the church.. New volunteers came forward when the 4 ladies could no longer help. They were Cherrill Robertson, Jerry Burke and Dave Burkett. These three continue to volunteer. With their efforts the food pantry expanded with donations including canned goods and money from other churches, individuals and groups. With the monetary donations we were able to purchase gift card so individuals could purchase perishable items including dairy, meats, fruits, and bread.

Approximately thirteen years ago Debbie Burkett contacted FeedMore about bringing the Mobile Food Pantry to Brunswick County as we had 7 USDA identified food deserts in the county and a significant number of people who did not have adequate food to meet their needs. Area churches were invited and 9 different churches from across the County attended the meeting with FeedMore. We were able to convince FeedMore our citizens would benefit greatly from the Mobile Pantry and they started coming the second Friday of every month to the parking lot behind LUMC for approximately the past 11 years. The distribution would begin around 10:30, but individuals would get in line at 5:00 a. m. Some individuals would even sleep in their cars overnight to be first in line. We started out serving 275 households providing vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy and grain at a minimum. Individuals were so appreciative. We would have 30+ individuals volunteer each second Friday no matter what the weather was (cold, snow, rain, heat).

Even though the Mobile Pantry came every month, the Food Pantry continued to provide emergency food to individuals and families in need Monday through Friday that DSS referred. Food shortages continued for many throughout Brunswick County.

LUMC also wrote a grant for the School Backpack Food program that provided food for vulnerable elementary students on the weekend or extended school closures. We were able to provide this for 3 years until FeedMore could no longer provide the program outside the  Richmond area.

As LUMC’s Food Ministry grew our past minister, Rev. Cecilia Brooks realized we needed someone to oversee and manage the reporting requirements of FeedMore. Michelle Bell who was a volunteer with our mobile pantry offered to help. She stepped up and helped the LUMC Food Ministry grow and meet the needs of at risk individuals and families who were hungry. Michelle Bell is LUMC’s Food Ministry Coordinator. Under her direction and the Church’s Food Pantry Committee (members include Jerry Burke, JoAnn Edmonds, Dave Burkett, Erma Gibson, Debbie Burkett, Rev. Kim Barker-Brugman and Michelle Bell), we continue to provide the emergency food through the food closet 5 days a week serving approximately 40 households a month, the mobile food pantry on the 2nd Friday of each month serves over 350 households each month and on the second Tuesday of the month a “Senior Food” boxes are provided to over 100 eligible senior citizens and their families. On Thursday each week a “_Pop-Up” pantry is setup to distribute food donated by Food Lion. This means we serve approximately 590 households a month who are in need of food assistance.

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