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2nd 'Feed the Need' supplies about 66,000 pounds of food to needy in Dyer County

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hundreds line up outside the National Guard armory as the 'Feed the Need' process of distributing food began at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. The Mid-South Food Bank trucked in approximately 66,000 pounds of food from their center in Memphis. Over 1,300 families were vouchered to receive the food for this month's distribution.
Over 1,000 families will be able to have a Christmas dinner and then some, thanks to this month's "Feed the Need" food giveaway by the Mid-South Food Bank's mobile pantry.

Close to 1,300 families were approved to receive their part of this month's shipment of around 66,000 pounds of food at the National Guard armory on Friday.

This is the second month in a row that Feed the Need has distributed food in Dyer County. "Feed the Need" Food Pantry Distribution is a collaboration of the Mid-South Food Bank, Dyersburg Noon and Morning Rotary and The Salvation Army. The food is subsidized through a USDA grant the Mid-South Food Bank has received.

Volunteers bundle food inside plastic sacks during a short break when the line of food recipients slowed down. Around 66,000 pounds were given to vouchered families through the 'Feed the Need' program.
Last month's giveaway was a learning experience for the crew of organizers and volunteers when over 700 families received food. There was some confusion among the recipients last time, but this month the process went much better as confirmed by an elated Mark Oakes, "Feed the Need" organizer.

"Smooth as butta," said Oakes referring to a pop-culture term for everything is going nicely. "Learning from our first time ... it is 100 percent smoother. We're putting people through without waiting. We had a lot of people adhere to the A through L to come first, but we are servicing everybody. It just makes you warm and fuzzy."

The process was tightened up by a number of different ways. The first was by only allowing a certain number through at a time. This cut down on some of the confusion of dealing with a large rush all at once inside the armory.

Volunteers greet recipients at the front table inside the armory. They check recipients' paperwork, check them off the list and then direct them to receive their first food station. Pattye Morris (far left), of Volunteer Home Care, said her office made a donation to the Salvation Army instead of giving Christmas gifts to doctors this year. From left: Pattye Morris, Donna Breece (of First Citizens), Candy Nale and Lori Scott (both of Volunteer).
Another change involved assigning specific duties to certain volunteers, such as carrying food to the vehicles of people that needed assistance. More distribution sites and tables to assist people that had lost their vouchers or needed a voucher were other ways the process was sharpened.

Chief Operating Officer of the Mid-South Food Bank Estella Mayhue-Greer was at last month's distribution and was on hand to see this month's, as well.

"I thought last month was smooth, but it is so well organized and it is moving a whole lot faster," said Mayhue-Greer. "Considering that we're serving more people and it's going faster."

She also said the food will help families during this holiday season, but it would also continue on indefinitely.

"This is good for Christmas, but we understand that people are hungry year-round," said Mayhue-Greer. "They have a need year-round and as I've said before we are committed to do this every month as long as we have food."

She also said they are planning to distribute food to vouchered families in Lake County next month.

"They are going to set up the voucher system and get volunteers," said Mayhue-Greer.

Since last month's food distribution in Dyer County, the Mid-South Food Bank is also starting to receive donations from local residents.

"We've never gotten contributions from Dyer County until now," said Mayhue-Greer. "With this, they really see what we're doing."

Bill Cloar, of the Noon Rotary Club, directs traffic with his unique fur gloves. The gloves brought smiles to faces both young and old and were a conversation starter.
Last month, the Mid-South Food Bank brought four trucks loaded with food, but they also had to rent an 18-wheeler for this shipment.

The recipients received ham, turkey, baking products, canned fruit and beans, peanut butter, jelly, dessert kits, rolled oats, hominy, lemonade and other items.

James Kirk, from Tatumville, was one of the volunteers that came back to lend a hand again during this month's distribution. He said he is on disability from working on the railroad and was going to volunteer and apply for a voucher.

"The Lord blessed me with good health, so to speak," said Kirk. "So if I can help somebody else, I will."

Bill Cloar of the Dyersburg Noon Rotary was directing traffic in a very unique pair of fur gloves during the cool morning. He said he didn't realize what a spectacle the gloves would be, but said they got a lot of smiles and attention.

Sylvester Simpson (left) holds two large sacks of perishable goods to give to a recipient of Friday's 'Feed the Need'. Bethany Chapman (back turned) directs them to the next station so they may receive their ticket for dry goods.
"You get a smile and the kids will just stop and turn around and look at me," said Cloar. "I'm having a good time. People are just so dern friendly."

The number of volunteers was almost the same as last month's, which was around 100, but they were making due with the new system.

"The number is a lot lower than last time, but then again it's plenty for what we're doing," said Oakes. "The number is still holding strong and we just keep praying for that."

Megan Madden (red shirt), of Security Bank, assists a family as they go through the food line inside the armory.
Caterpillar Logistics also donated by helping unload the food and Sonic brought breakfast for the volunteers.

Glendora Greenway is president of the Noon Rotary and was pleased with the volunteers and the orderliness of the process.

"Today things are going a lot smoother and a lot more orderly," said Greenway. "We have different volunteers than last month and we appreciate that."

Oakes stressed the program is not only for people who are on government assistance, but anybody that is having trouble making ends meet.

"This is also for people who have been laid off, their hours reduced, their wages reduced," said Oakes. "Those hard-working people in the community qualify for this as an emergency situation. That's one of the best benefits of doing this. It helps everybody, but especially in this economic time, helping those people make the end of the month is a great thing to do and that's why we do it."

The "Feed the Need" program is expected to continue on the third Friday of every month. Each voucher is good for six months.

To donate to the Mid-South Food Bank go to www.midsouthfoodbank.org or call 901-527-0841.

Mark Oakes (left) talks with two other members of the Salvation Army during Friday's 'Feed the Need'. Oakes is the chairman of the board of the local Salvation Army, a member of the Dyersburg Noon Rotary and the organizer of the Feed the Need program in Dyer County.
Participants in the food program must be screened and have a voucher to show they are eligible to receive food.

Applicant screening and vouchers are available now at Matthew 25:40, The Salvation Army and the Union Mission. Any resident of Dyer County who has documentation proving that they receive any one of the following types of aid qualifies.

1. SNAP (food stamp) benefits,

2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

3. Supplemental Security Income

4. Residence in Public Housing

5. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds

Participants must show an original copy of their voucher and have some form of identification.

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Very well organized.I was in and out in fifteen minutes.What a great job by organizers and volunteers alike. THANKS SO VERY MUCH !!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by stepreen on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 1:37 PM

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