All can pitch in and help

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The closing of Farm Fresh has proven to be detrimental to food banks in the area that often received substantial donations from locations of the chain grocery store.

The Suffolk Christian Fellowship Center food pantry was receiving about 16,000 pounds of food per month from Suffolk’s two Farm Fresh stores, its co-founder and chief operating officer, Lorna Slaughter, said this week.

Food Lion and Walmart also donated a combined 19,000 per month. But since the two Farm Fresh stores closed, the pantry has had to decrease its number of distribution days, since it doesn’t have much food to put on the shelves.

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“Having the donations is what allows us to do our part,” Slaughter said.

The Virginian-Pilot also reported that the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore feared the loss of both food and monetary donations that Farm Fresh had provided.

As summer approaches, which is typically a time of high need for food banks, the situation is especially concerning. Donations drop during the summer, and families are more in need of help with food, since children are not receiving breakfast and lunch at school.

As Slaughter will tell anyone who talks to her about the pantry, the identity of people who are in need of help with food costs is changing. It’s no longer just the poor and the needy, she said this week; many people are in need of help as rising costs of living and stagnant wages trap more people in a vicious financial cycle.

“If our neighbors are suffering, then the entire community is suffering,” Slaughter said.

She hopes to get Kroger and Harris Teeter, which have purchased the two Suffolk Farm Fresh locations, on board with supporting the food pantry, as well as the newcomer to the market, Aldi, which just opened a Suffolk store.

We can’t all donate thousands of pounds of food a month, but if all of us pitch in and help, the effect will be the same. Those who want to help the Suffolk Christian Fellowship Center food pantry personally can do so by organizing a food drive or by simply donating food. The pantry is located at 211 E. Washington St., and donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays.