How You Change Lives In Upstate South Carolina

June 1, 2018

Johnny Corn, founder of Gleaning House Ministries, loads a cart with food for a community member in need.

It was a typical Tuesday morning in Pickens, S.C., so Johnny Corn shouldered a box to help a young mother at Gleaning House Ministries carry donated cereal, vegetables, bread, meat and other food items to her car.

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.

Fresh greens and shelf-stable food items await distribution to families in need.

“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.”