Editorial 4/29/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Community churches unite to meet needs of
hungry families

Today marks the second in what we hope will be an ongoing and successful endeavor to assist struggling families in the north part of Panola County.

An 18-wheeler from the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis is scheduled to arrive at Como’s Cistern Hill Church to provide food to be picked up this afternoon by families who have obtained vouchers in screenings held in Como and Sardis earlier this month.

The mobile food pantry project is sponsored by the North Panola Church Collaborative, a dozen northern Panola area churches whose members have raised $1,600 to bring the Food Bank truck to Como today.

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Local volunteers will sort and bag food and other household essentials from the transport truck, and then hand it out in a “drive through” style operation.

On February 4, despite a cold winter rain, representatives from 486 families came to Cistern Hill to receive free groceries delivered by some 50 volunteers who worked under tents in the church yard.

In all, more than 15,000 pounds of food were distributed that day.

The project serves families with residences in zip codes in the north half of the county: 38619, 38621, 38619, 38666, and 38665. Those who qualify for SNAP benefits, SSI, TANF  and other assistance programs for low income families are eligible to participate.

A food pantry to serve needy families has been in operation in Batesville since 1987, but the members of the North Panola Church Collaborative realized that transportation to Batesville is a problem for many in their area. So they came up with their own plan, reaching out to the Mid-South Food Bank which serves people in 31 counties in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The plan involved raising the funds to pay for the delivery of the food, but also contributions of time and energy by many local volunteers who have conducted screenings over the past month at Sardis United Methodist Church and Cistern Hill and will be on duty at today’s distribution.

What the organizers have accomplished is an example to the rest of us of what community means. They didn’t wait for the government to solve the problem of hunger among their neighbors. They joined together, tapped into available resources, planned carefully (and probably prayerfully), and worked hard.

As a result, there will perhaps be a traffic jam this afternoon in Como as families redeem their vouchers.

Members of the Collaborative are: Sardis United Methodist Church, Cistern Hill, Como UMC, Como Chapel CME, Como Baptist, Hammond Hill Baptist, Sardis Baptist, Holy Innocents Episcopal, Wesley Chapel, Walton Chapel, Como Church of Christ and Cherry Street Baptist Church.