Sandra Banks, busy arranging food on the shelves at Faith Outreach Food Pantry moments before it opens, pauses to gesture to the people outside. “When I get here at 10, they have been out there since 9 o’clock,” she says, “waiting in line for the food. There’s nothing left on the shelves when we close, but we do what we can do!”
Sandra and her volunteer staff serve about 50 people each day, two days a week out of a small room behind Faith Outreach Christian Church in Hephzibah, GA with the support of the church’s pastor, Bishop Richard Peoples.
On days when the Food Pantry is not open, Mrs. Banks is working to stock its shelves with nutritious food. Faith Outreach participates in Golden Harvest’s Retail Store Donation Program, enabling her to collect donated food from local grocery stores. “It has been a blessing because they give us fresh stuff, fresh produce,” smiles Mrs. Banks.
Serving with a Smile
Sandra greets Cheryl, a mother and grandmother, with a welcoming hug when she walks into the food pantry with her granddaughter Kelly. “Thank you so much, sweetheart,” Cheryl says upon receiving a grocery cart filled with canned goods, frozen meat, produce, and milk; “this really helps.”
This interaction is typical at the Food Pantry, and is at the heart of its ministry. “People know us,” Mrs. Banks says; “We treat them with dignity.” She explains that those visiting the pantry are going through difficult times; “so we treat them with dignity, we give them a hug, and that makes it easier for them.”
This caring service makes a lasting impact. Pantry visitors often return to Faith Outreach months later with a donation, grateful for the help that got them through a time of crisis. Sandra tells one story in particular that stands out; “One day, this guy came in and he asked me, did the church take donations? He said, ‘I only got a dollar, it’s my last dollar.’ That guy only had a dollar to his name, and he chose to give back.”
To learn about receiving food assistance or volunteering at Faith Outreach Food Pantry, contact Sandra Banks at 706-261-5043 or email@example.com.