nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
      Archives | Subscribe | Special Sections

Local News arrow Charities arrow Front Royal arrow Kim Walter

| 0

Loaves and Fishes in dire need of help

Andrew Thompson, 11, and his brother Joseph, 7, take donated items and load them into shopping carts to stock the pantry shelves. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Related Stories

Tammy Pearsall: 'I don't know what I'd do if I had to provide for anyone else'
Kerry Sylvester: 'There's no judgment here. They feel for you'
Brenda Thompson: 'The Lord said, 'You have to do something to give back'

Charlene Caison holds her food bags while she waits in line to collect food. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Bobby Grigsby, 67, of Front Royal, waits outside the doorway of the food pantry during the Wednesday food distribution while other patrons load grocery items into their vehicles. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Chilly Raiford, 91, lives above the food pantry and greets the patrons, including Charlene Caison, 62, on her visit Wednesday evening. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Bobby Grigsby, 67, of Front Royal, waits outside the food pantry in Front Royal during the Wednesday food distribution. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Charlene Caison, 62, of Front Royal, sits in the handicapped seating area while she waits her turn to shop in the food pantry. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Food pantry sees lines, need for assistance grow

By Kim Walter

FRONT ROYAL -- Even though its doors wouldn't open for another couple hours, dozens of area residents waited for their turn to "shop" at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry on Wednesday night.

The pantry, which started up more than three years ago, serves close to 3,000 people from surrounding counties, and distributes an average of about 40,000 pounds of food a month.

Food is available each Wednesday evening from 5 p.m. to whenever patron have gotten what they need. The line leading up to the pantry, which is housed in the basement of 208 John Rice Road, includes people from all walks of life.

Some are parents, with children tagging along; others are senior citizens, who sit on benches as they wait for their name to be called. Some sit by themselves, while others chat and catch up with each other.

No matter their background, their story, or their reason for needing the food pantry's services, one rule is always the same -- no one is ever turned away.

That is one thing that founder Shelly Cook will always stand by.

"The Lord has blessed me so much my entire life," she said. "As a Christian, as a community member, I wanted to help my neighbors. I am not the judge here, only God can do that."

Cook was able to partner with Catholic Charities to receive some food and monetary donations. However, as the years went by and times became tough, the lines and need for assistance grew.

The pantry has one paid position, which handles administrative tasks. Everything else -- collecting and unloading donations, stocking shelves, helping shoppers -- is left to volunteers.

All monetary donations are used to purchase food, and Cook said the treasury and processes are "as transparent as possible."

Cook wanted the pantry to be different from countless others in the area in that she wanted to offer patrons a dignified, personal experience.

Those in need have to fill out a single form during their first visit to the pantry. The form includes information about federal assistance, income, and the number of dependents. When a name is called, a volunteer walks through the pantry with the patron, pointing out different foods and how many items can betaken from a certain category.

"The thing is, here, they have choices," Cook said. "If they have an allergy, they have options. If they need to follow a certain diet, we can help them with that."

Depending on the number of people benefiting from the pantry, there are limits to how much food a person can receive. The portions are generous, yet the pantry is able to feed one person for less than $2.

Even with help from different food drives or donations from local grocery and chain stores, the pantry is in dire need of extra help.

According to Cook, a website soon will be available for the pantry. It will allow people to make tax deductible donations and become a recurring sponsor for $25 a month -- less than a dollar a day.

"These funds are going right back into the community," Cook said. "Someone thinks that $5 isn't that big a deal, but to us it means feeding a family."

The positive impact of the pantry is obvious. Cook said that a majority of the regular volunteers were once patrons who decided to give back in that way. Many of the patrons enjoy fellowship with each other as they wait in line, and some take time to load food for others.

"Neighbors helping neighbors, that's what this is all about," Cook said. "And it's getting cold, a little dark, but these folks are smiling. There is a sense of charity, even in their desperation. Makes you stop and think, doesn't it?"

While Cook said she is hoping for regular sponsors, she also welcomes the help of local restaurants and stores that would be willing to donate meals on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as people wait in line for the pantry.

For more information or to find out how to help, visit www.loavesandfishesfoodpantry.org, or call 540-550-0334.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com

Keep up to date on local news

Sign up here to receive Northern Virginia Daily news delivered to your email box each morning and when breaking news occurs.


Comments that are posted represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com. View our comments/submisssions policy. Report abuse by clicking the X next to the comment.

Local News Sections

Affordable Care Act Agency on Aging Agriculture Alex Bridges Apple Blossom Festival Aviation Basye Berryville Boyce Breaking News Business Charities Civil War Clarke County Colleges Corrections Courthouse Notes: Permits, Transactions Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Education Edward N. Bell Election 2012 Entertainment Environment Fairs & Festivals Fire & Rescue Fishers Hill Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal George Washington National Forest Guest Column Hard Times Health History Holidays Homes In The Spotlight Jeff Nations Joe Beck Josette Keelor Kim Walter Ledger Livestock Local Markets Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mount Jackson New Market Page County Pets & Animals Politics Progress 2013 Quicksburg Religion Rockingham County RSW Jail Ryan Cornell School News Shenandoah County Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department Star Tannery State Stephens City Steven A. Boyce Strasburg Toms Brook Traffic & Transportation Utilities Valley 911 Warren County Weather West Virginia Winchester Woodstock Year in Review

News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Classifieds
Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Comments/Submissions Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

2013 Virginia Press Association Sweepstakes Winner
The Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!

nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com