Venicia, mother of two, receives food assistance at a Mobile Food Pantry Summer Market location.

Every summer, Golden Harvest sees an increase in the number of hungry families in need of help. Summer utility bills are higher, and when children don’t receive free breakfast and lunch at school, it’s hard to make food budgets stretch.

This year, the Food Bank reached out to Richmond County Schools with a new plan to help meet the need. A plan to host Golden Harvest’s Mobile Market at local schools quickly fell into place.

Now, twice a week, two refrigerated box trucks loaded with enough food to feed 200+ families pull up to a CSRA elementary school. Volunteers pull foods like fresh milk, fresh fruit, cheese, frozen meats and pantry staples off pallets as families in need line up in their cars.

“The response has been great. Everyone has seemed very thankful,” said Natalie Bracey, Richmond County Schools Wrap Around Program Specialist. “We have a lot of senior citizens; they are raising their grandchildren so it’s really helping them out.“

Every Tuesday at Wilkinson Gardens and Thursday at W.S. Hornsby elementary schools, a line of cars winds around the parking lot and extends into the street. Dozens of cars are already in line an hour before the first box is handed out.

“You know after you pay your rent and your light bill and your water, there’s nothing left to buy food,” said Frank, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran who gets $14 a month in food stamps. His face lights up when he hears there are pork chops and oranges in this week’s box.

The Mobile Market events are manned by volunteers willing to brave the summer heat to load vehicles with gallons of milk, bags of frozen fish and boxes of canned vegetables – all to make sure local families don’t go hungry.

“It’s for the kids, really,” says Venicia, a mother of two, before she drives away. “We need the food they’re giving us here. At the end of the day this makes a good, healthy meal.”

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