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Kameren and Terrance Dixon’s (9) mother, Raquel, is recently unemployed. Their family of five live in South Boston, VA, and now rely solely on her dad’s income working at a pet food manufacturer to make ends meet.
“Some fruits and vegetables are real expensive nowadays, so it helps us get fruits and vegetables. It helps us with meat,” says Mrs. Dixon who notes that her husband’s income alone hasn’t always been enough to pay the family’s bills and meet other expenses.
James Strickland (71, R) retired from his job as a truck driver at age 60 to care for his wife of 42 years. She’s had several strokes and unable to leave their home.
“These guys do a great job. Even if you don’t need food, you come on down and they’ll talk to you about your problems,” he says regarding the staff at the Colonial Heights food pantry, where he has been receiving food for the past 3 years. Mr. Strickland is pictured here loading his car with food pantry volunteer Richard King (L), a service member with the US Army. “With food prices and everything going up, it’s hard for a family that don’t have a lot to survive.”
Angel Velasquez (7) sits with his mother, Gladis Montoya, with food they’ve just picked out at the Feed More-supported farmer’s market style distribution at South Boston Elementary school.
“The fruits, the meals – everything is fresh and of good quality here. In these times when the kids are out of school, they’re eating more at home and this is a big help,” says Gladis, who works as a cleaner to provide for her family of four.
Mr. Theophilos Taylor (81) retired from his landscaping business a few years ago. He now works as a volunteer every day at Prince George County Outreaches Food Bank in Disputana, VA. Each day he collects food donations from various stores in the community and brings them to the food bank. He occasionally makes food deliveries to elderly people who are unable to make it out of their house.
Mr. Taylor recalls the first time he was told about the volunteer position by food bank director Andrea Barnes: “I said, ‘I ain’t going to never work for nobody for nothing.’ But I got to working on this job and I wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China. No doubt about it. I love doing it. … Now I don’t care what kind of position that you are in, a need is a need, and it needs to be taken care of.”
First Union Baptist church food pantry volunteer Roberta Young-Jackson prepares clients’ food boxes for the pantry’s weekly distribution. The pantry sees anywhere from 60 to 100 families served each week and relies on a team of dedicated volunteers like Ms. Young-Jackson.
“Our volunteers really are the ones that make this happen,” says pantry coordinator Dorenda Coger (not pictured). “They know how to make it happen. It could all run very smoothly without us here. And they give selflessly, and they jump in wherever and whenever needed. And they’re dedicated to what they do. Extremely dedicated.”
Joseph Keeton, Jr. (59) has been coming to the Project Care-For food pantry in Clarksville, VA, for the last year “once in a while. Just when I absolutely have to.” He worked as a truck driver for 25 years before he had to retire due to health problems in 2016. He currently stays home to care for his wife, who is seriously ill.
“My wife’s got cancer and sometimes we have a lot of medical bills and I have to come down [to the pantry],” says Mr. Keeton, Jr. “Sometimes it takes everything we both have to, you know, just to eat. [Without this food pantry] probably we’d starve some days, or some months.”
Kelsey Crews (R) receives a bag full of fresh corn from volunteer Marvin Ballou (L) at a Feed More-supported distribution at South Boston Elementary School.
“There’s a need for what Feed More does. … I came once to help, and I had such a good time. I think this is the fourth time I’ve been here now. It’s amazing. I have such a great time,” says Mr. Ballou.
Lesley Trent has been receiving food from the Cumberland Community Cares food pantry in Cumberland, VA, three times a month for over a year now. At 72, he retired from his job as a concrete worker for the town of Farmville two years ago. He has a daughter and wife at home and they’re expecting a new baby in the coming months as well. “It means a whole lot,” Mr. Trent says of the pantry. “Ain’t no question about that. It helped me. I only get so much social security and whatnot and the pantry means a whole lot for helping, towards helping people. And anything I can do in return to help it, I’d be glad to. “
The food panty at Cumberland Community Cares in Cumberland, VA, has been in operation since 2017, though the Feed More-supported mobile pantry predates that. The organization serves about 200 families per distribution several times a month and relies on a team of about 80 volunteers. Here, volunteer Rodney Davenport helps pack food boxes with fresh cabbage for clients ahead of the monthly mobile pantry.
Shown here with his daughter Adriana (4), Alexander Martinez (33) has received food at the Colonial Heights food pantry about every two weeks for the last year. Mr. Martinez’s job as a dishwasher doesn’t pay enough to buy all the food his family needs.
“The truth is that it has helped my family a lot. I have three kids and when I come to get food at the pantry, it always helps me to save money a little bit more. I don’t make very much money as a dishwasher, so this pantry has been a big help. Grocery prices have gone up so much, and this resource always helps. If it wasn’t here, it would definitely be harder to make ends meet,” says Mr. Martinez.
Annette Walker (65) recently retired from her job as a cook at the Fort Lee mess hall. She’s received food from the Hope Center, Downtown Churches United food pantry in Petersburg, VA, for about the last five years. Intent on staying fit, she arrives at the pantry about every other month on foot along with a push cart, a journey which takes her about 20 minutes each way. Ms. Walker shares the food with her family of three at home which includes her son, who is disabled, and her grandson. “I like coming here. It takes care of that empty spot where I don’t have enough stamps, and when I need to get something. …. We can get the stuff here that we can’t find on the shelf in the stores, because the stores are getting so empty now,” she rejoices. “So I say, ‘Thank you, Lord’ because it does help. The meats, the prices are so, so expensive. The milk, the eggs, the bread. I can’t believe how high. You have to be very careful what you buy now because the prices have gone up so high. Usually by about the 20th of the month your food stamps are dwindling because of the prices.”
Flor Baires is a volunteer and former client of the food bank at Cornerstone Community Development Center in Aylett, VA. She started receiving food here in 2020, but soon began volunteering by unloading trucks and helping to distribute food to clients on drive-thru food pantry days. Today she and her husband operate their own cleaning business in the tri-cities area.
“We started off coming here to receive food,” says Ms. Baires. “Then we decided that we wanted to come back to help out with the distribution. …. Coming to this pantry, it’s a very nice place because we can do what we feel in our heart, which is to give back and help others. It’s the best thing that you can do, and that makes us feel happy. It doesn’t matter if we’re out in the sun or the rain, our desire is to help out.”
Mohammad Asif Alami (80), orginially from Afghanistan, has lived in the US for the last 8 years and regularly receives food from the ICNA food pantry in Richmond, VA.
Italy Pumphrey (7) helps her little brother, Legend (2), reach for a pack of cheese at a Feed More-supported food distribution at South Boston Elementary school.
“I work 12 hour shifts, so to see something like this happening for the community is awesome because …. even though we make good money, we still struggle with stuff like food and stuff. We can’t get help because of the amount of money we make, but they don’t know that this money goes to bills, this money goes to car insurance, this money goes to car payments. My rent is $1,455 a month, so that’s what I work for, but then that takes money away from stuff like this, food, gas. For this, that helps me so it’s awesome. … Coming here today was really good. It helped us get a lot of things we need, especially for me to cook dinner for tonight, so that was really nice,” says mother Krystal Pumphrey (not pictured).
Client Vernon Hochstetler walks to his car with bags full of groceries at the Feed More-supported monthly mobile food pantry at the Cumberland Community Cares in Cumberland, VA.
Leila Pegram (72) receives food at the Hope Center, Downtown Churches United food pantry in Petersburg, VA, once a month.
“Here, they give me enough and it lasts me. But when I go in the grocery store and I’m trying to buy something, I may not have enough money to get certain things. But here, it helps and stretches. We’re getting meats like chicken, ham. Turkey too, when the holidays come. Breads and a lot of canned foods – helpful stuff like that. Tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, fresh vegetables and plenty of fruit. Milk. They give us a right nice box.”
Cumberland Community Cares volunteer David Salmons works to fill food boxes for clients during the monthly mobile pantry in Cumberland, VA.
Feed More’s Community Kitchen at 1415 Rhoadmiller Street, Richmond.