The Middle Georgia Community Food Bank in Macon, Ga. is low on food supplies. As a result, many of the Middle Georgia charitable organizations that rely on the Food Bank to help stock their food pantries are suffering.
Also, many of the other support agencies and charities in the area have reported an increased need of supplies and almost all of them have noted that giving is down.
Ronald Raleigh, executive director for the Middle Georgia Food Bank, said the poor economy is most likely to blame for an increase in demand for food during the past three years.
In regards to supply, Rev. Stacey Harwell, Minister of Community Building at Centenary, said, “The problem is, of course, all due to unemployment. Many of our regular givers have been unemployed during some point in the unemployment crisis or have had to withstand lower hours or lower pay with no raise or bonuses.”
As executive director of Macon Outreach at Mulberry, Johnny Hathcock has been relying less on the food bank and more on area churches to meet the increased demand for food.
Due to the help from the churches in the area, Hathcock said, Macon Outreach is able to provide groceries through its food pantry and hot meals through its feeding program.
In addition to Macon Outreach’s feeding program, Centenary holds a community breakfast every Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.
Mercer students from Wesley Foundation of Macon are volunteering their time to help with the breakfast. “While [this breakfast] does not fall into the food bank category, the community breakfast is a free meal offered to whoever shows up on Sundays,” said D. Merricks, campus pastor of the Wesley Foundation of Macon.
As a general trend, Centenary has moved away from giving groceries, but instead has focused on helping with utilities.
During the summer, utility bills are so high that some people are faced with choosing between feeding their families or paying for air conditioning. “We strive to help folks gain stability through our transitional housing program and community garden,” said Harwell.
One of the ways to decrease the shortage of food supplies is to look towards these community gardens. The garden at Centenary often has such an abundance of food that some of the food is thrown out. Other gardens exist around Macon, such as Pleasant Hill’s garden, and Mulberry Street’s.
Local churches are not the only ones with service projects to help those in need.
Alpha Phi Omega, Mercer’s service fraternity, has participated in various service events hosted by different organizations such as Be A Good NeighBear.
During these last few weeks, APO “has put together toiletry kits for Loaves & Fishes Ministry,” said Chantal Gunn, a junior. She is APO’s Interchapter and Alumni Liaison.
In addition to those specific service projects, each week APO sets aside time to volunteer at the Senior Center on Adams Street, the Georgia Academy for the Blind and the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, among others.
It is not necessary to be members of these various organizations to volunteer and get involved. Local Engagement Against Poverty (LEAP) events that Mercer holds are open to any Mercer student who would like to get involved.
Also, for more information about how to help the food bank and the agencies it services, call (478)742-3958 or (478)741-8777, or visit mgcfb.org.
For more information on how to help with Centenary’s community garden, contact Jill Vanderhoek at [email protected].