Agency News and Alerts
It’s a brand new year, and a new chapter for Golden Harvest!
I shared with you in August how the Food Bank engaged in a rigorous strategic planning process last summer. Now it’s time to put that plan to work. As members of our Golden Harvest family, I wanted to share our vision for the next five years with you.
We’ll be moving forward in five strategic areas: company culture, health, community partnerships, fundraising and innovation.
Highlights of our plan include expanding our Master’s Table Soup Kitchen Garden, continuing to improve the health of the food we provide to those in need, revamping our Outreach efforts, and investing in better technology. We’ve already begun to move forward in these key areas by purchasing a plot of land to expand our Garden, bringing a new Director of Community Partnerships on board to head up our Outreach work, and updating our company-wide technologies. The next year will see many more exciting changes as we work to provide food for a better life to those who need in most in our community.
During the Strategic Planning process, we were able to revisit and re-affirm our mission, vision and values here at Golden Harvest Food Bank. Our mission, Feeding Lives Together, drives our new company-wide vision: Inspiring Healthy Change, One Meal at a Time. Our values of Faith, Service, Health, People and Community beautifully express the braiding of our past ministry, present work and aspirations for the future. To learn more, visit our mission page.
Thank you so much for your support of our efforts. We can’t wait to continue to share our plans as they unfold in exciting ways, and look forward to Feeding Lives Together with you in 2019.
God bless you,
Gloria is toting a box of yellow crookneck squash she picked up from Golden Harvest at the Eat Smart Move More booth at last September’s Senior Extravaganza in Aiken. She already received a box of zucchini but came back for another when she heard there was squash.
“I appreciate that you provide for us,” she says. “That food is making a difference in my pay check.”
Gloria retired early after developing problems with her back and hip. She later was diagnosed with diabetes. She visits two Golden Harvest partner food pantries in Aiken on a regular basis. She’s on a fixed income but determined to maintain a nutritious diet — one that involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Programs like Eat Smart Move More are eager to help local families through both better nutrition education and programming.
Made up of 10 community partners including the Aiken City Parks and Rec, Golden Harvest Food Bank, Rural Health Services and the Clemson Extension, the group focuses on “active living, healthy eating and a tobacco-free lifestyle” according to Clemson Extension representative Sarah King.
Among the programs the group already supports is Cooking Matters, a demonstration class that “takes foods like the zucchini and squash we have today and teaches people how to cook it properly and the nutrition behind that,” King said.
At the extravaganza, seniors teemed around the Eat Smart Move More booth. Everyone left with bags — or entire boxes — of fresh yellow and green squash. “Cooking fresh is important, but the cost is a little high,” said Lorraine, another senior attending the Extravaganza, as she loaded up her bag. “I appreciate getting some fresh vegetables here today.”
Sally jokes happily with a fellow volunteer as she deftly packs a box of food at Sardis Baptist Church Food Pantry. From her sunny demeanor, you would never guess what her family has been through, or that they will be receiving a food assistance themselves at the end of the day.
“This place got us through the hard time, and gave me new hope and new joy,” Sally says. Sally, age 67, is raising her 3 grandchildren after her daughter passed away when the children were small. Just 3 years ago Sally’s husband passed away as well, leaving the family without a source of income.
Then Nancy Cain, the Food Pantry Director at Sardis Baptist Food Pantry, reached out to Sally. “Nancy came to my house and got me and brought me here to the food pantry, she brought me out of myself,” remembers Sally. After receiving help at the food pantry and witnessing the community of caring there, Sally began to volunteer each week helping to pack food after.
“I love it here – it gives me joy to be able to help,” Sally says. “When I think about how blessed I am, seeing the people that love me, I’m so happy.”
Pretty soon, Sally’s two older grandchildren – Janiqua (18) and Daimon (16) – began volunteering every week along with her. In addition to receiving food assistance, the family found support and joy in helping others.
“This food helps us a whole lot,” says Sally. “We get chicken, potatoes, onions, so many good things – I can’t wait to make us a meal when I get the food home.”
Now, with enough nutritious food, Janiqua is excelling in school and applying to attend college in the fall. She was even able to use her volunteer experience at the food pantry as a work-based learning program to help with her college application.
“About half of the people who volunteer are previous clients or current ones,” says Cain; “At least half are families with children, and about two thirds are senior citizens.” The food pantry serves about 300 families each month and works to include healthy foods like meat, dairy, produce.
Barry Jenkins, a retired RN, explains the food pantry’s mission: “This is God’s work – we want to meet the spiritual needs of the people in this community as well as their bodily needs,” he says. “Sharing the gospel and offering prayers for those who need it is a part of our ministry as well.”
Cain agrees; “When you show people that you care about them, you can really start to make a difference in their life.”
Sardis Baptist Church is only one of the great organizations that powers the food pantry with financial and volunteer support. Sardis Methodist Church, Ellis Chapel Methodist Church, Jubilee Christian Worship Center, and Southern Bank all work together to serve the hungry at this wonderful pantry.
Volunteers and financial support are always needed, and financial donations are greatly appreciated – to help out at Sardis Baptist Food Pantry and for information on how to donate, call Barry Jenkins at 706-200-8107!
Meet the organizations behind the Sardis Food Pantry:
Sardis Methodist Church & Ellis Chapel Methodist Church
1120 Girard Avenue
Sardis, GA 30456
Contact: Rev. Janet Odegaard
Jubilee Christian Worship Center
11401 Highway 23 South
Girard, GA 30426
Contact: Rev. Albert White
731 Charles Perry Ave
Sardis, GA 30456
He placed the box in the backseat and saw a small hand reach up to snatch an orange from the top of the box. It was the woman’s young son, who couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into the ripe fruit.
“I could tell that her son he hadn’t eaten yet that day,” Johnny recalls.
Johnny and Esther Corn started Gleaning House Ministries almost 18 years ago, when their calling to start a food ministry found solid footing thanks to a local church’s generosity.
With the loan of a van to transport food and space to distribute, “We served 40 families that first month,” Johnny says.
The distribution has grown significantly over the years; it now provides food to about 300 families each week. The families reflect the need in a county where 1 in 5 people often go hungry. Gleaning House sees everything from single people in need to large households with 8-10 people to feed to multigenerational homes where seniors are caring for grandchildren.
“We collected and redistributed over 800,000 pounds of food last year,” Johnny says.
And the ministry has a lot of volunteers – and community support – ready and willing to do everything they can to ensure no one leaves the food pantry on C David Stone Road empty handed.
There’s the man living out of his car who came once and insisted he couldn’t come back unless the Corns let him volunteer. Soon he was helping haul retail food pickups.
There’s the much-needed electric pallet jack that just appeared behind a stack of bread racks with the sign ‘use this with love’ right when they really needed it.
There’s the team of volunteers who show up throughout the week to help prep boxes of nonperishable food items by family size so that they’re ready to go every Tuesday.
“It changes their lives,” Johnny says. “They’re excited about being here.”
“In so many of these families, both parents are working but the money can’t stretch to feed everyone,” says Principal Ward.
Principal Ward and her staff first realized just how great the need was when Angela Rhea, a teacher, noticed several students who wanted to go through the line again at breakfast on Monday morning. It was clear that they were hungry, and Rhea realized these children were getting little to eat at home on the weekends.
She reached out to Golden Harvest Food Bank for help, and soon afterwards the school started providing BackPack weekend meal packs to children whose parents were struggling.
Now, children like 9-year-old Jason and 7-year-old Sandrareceive a bag of weekend food to get them through the weekend. The two are siblings whose family began to struggle with huger when their house was made unlivable by damage from Hurricane Matthew. stretching their financial resources to breaking point. With their financial resources stretched to breaking point, they had to move in with a family member while their father found work out of state.
Each time they receive their BackPack meal pack, Sandra and Jason’s eyes light up. “I get lots of hugs when I call them in Friday for the food,” says Rhea, who now serves as the Backpack Coordinator at Blythe Elementary.
“All the kids are very thankful that they get this weekend food,” Rhea says; “We can’t be with our students on the weekend, but at least this way they have more choices– something to eat.”
A few local organizations like the American Legion help to support the BackPack Program at Blythe Elementary, but there are still many children need of food assistance. “Every dollar matters – we use it, we need it to feed these students,” says Ward.