East Stokes Outreach Ministries (ESOM) is facing a growing need for volunteers and a different vehicle to transport large quantities of food in order to continue to serve the community.
“We have lots of wonderful volunteers, but not a lot of men who are physically able to lift all of the heavy pallets of food that we get in,” said Executive Director Marchelle Brown. “We are so thankful for the many men who volunteer, but we need more. It is not a numbers problem, it is a problem of having volunteers who have the physical ability at the times when we are unloading.”
Brown said the pantry is in even greater need of a new vehicle to transport food from Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem.
“We have a van that was donated to us about six years ago,” she explained. “That came to us out of pure prayer. We have used it every day since we got it. Our volunteers come in and useiti to get donations from Food Lion and for our big runs.”
Brown said two days, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., are the key days for unloading large quantities of food.
“Wednesday is our big order day,” said Brown. “We order locally and buy locally for everything we give out from the pantry that we cannot get from Second Harvest. We usually have to buy additional peanut butter, jelly, green beans, corn, and canned meat.
“We go to Second Harvest on Tuesday and right now we average about 2,000 pounds of food from there every week,” she said. “It can be as much as 5,000 pounds.”
Brown said that with a need that, great it is frequently hard to safely transport that much food with the existing van.
“When you put that much weight on the van it is very scary,” she said. “Plus we are wearing the van out and we still need to do runs every day. We just did $1,100 in repairs to it over the past couple of months.”
She said the pantry serves about 150 families every week, and is worried about how to transport that much food if the pantry cannot find a new form, preferably a box truck, of transportation.
“I believe that just like God provided the van, God will provide a truck,” she said, noting that the pantry is specifically looking for an automatic truck without wheel wells. She said preferably the truck would be 14 to 16 feet long, although a bigger truck would work as long as it did not require volunteers to have a CDL to operate it. “I know there is someone out there that does not know the need we are facing. I hope they will find out about that need and realize they could use it as a tax write off and just want to be generous.”
Brown noted that ESOM is working with limited funds because they are still paying off a recent expansion for the building and try to focus as much of their funding on buying food for the hungry as possible.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.