School is out for summer in Newton County, and a number of families are loading up their vehicles with packed bags and children to head off on family vacations and road adventures.
For some families, however, summer means worrying about where their next meal will come from, and that’s where the Community Food Pantry comes in.
Director Rosalee Thompson said since school let out a few weeks ago, the pantry has seen an increase in families needing food.
She said the increase might well be due to the fact that children don’t have access to meals at school.
Last Friday, Thompson said, the Community Food Pantry provided food to 30 families.
It typically averages serving about 10 families in one day.
“This year has been rough. We have had double the people that we had in the past,” Thompson said. “We had 30 families. Have you ever tried to shop for 30 families in three hours?”
Families in need of food and supplies are screened on Monday and Thursday mornings, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. On Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., eligible families receive food and other supplies at the pantry.
However, after last week’s jump in families seeking food, Thompson said the pantry needs more donations to replenish its shelves.
A sign on the pantry door said it all: “Closed, until further notice. We are out of food.” The shelter closed on Monday and Tuesday due to the lack of food and supplies.
Thanks to some donations from a few people in the community and churches on Monday and Tuesday, the pantry is gradually being stocked again to provide for those in need.
However, as Thompson walked through the pantry to show off its rows of bare shelves, the need for more food and supplies was apparent.
“I don’t want to see anybody go hungry, especially if they are children,” she said.
The Community Food Pantry, a tax-exempt organization under the Newton County Ministers Union, opened in 1987 as a cooperative effort of local churches.
Thompson was hired as director of the CFP when it opened, and has served in that capacity ever since, helping out families for more than 25 years. In addition to the director, the pantry also has volunteers who pick up food, stock the shelves and hand out food to families.
Thompson said many of the pantry’s food donations come from a number of churches, individuals, civic organizations, businesses and schools.
She said the United Way also donates funds to the pantry, and the Community Food Pantry works closely with the Department of Family and Children’s Services; FaithWorks, an organization that assists families in financial crisis; and the Salvation Army.
Acceptable donations include canned vegetables, canned meat, canned tuna, cereal, grits, evaporated milk, canned fruit, beans, pork and beans, baby food, water, bread, peanut butter, jelly, canned spaghetti and flour.
The pantry also collects bath tissue, diapers, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo.
Food and supplies can be dropped off at 7125 Turner Lake Circle SW, Covington, Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Monetary donations can be sent to: The Community Food Pantry, 1169 Clark St., Covington, GA 30014.
For more information, call 770-784-0037.