Old Mother Hubbard doesn’t work at the Salvation Army in Mount Airy, but the cupboard there is bare all the same.
A recent high volume of requests for aid has depleted the agency’s food pantry, leaving officials appealing to the community for help.
Food stockpiles there have been steadily declining for months — but what hasn’t been decreasing is the demand for assistance.
“Ever since the Salvation Army’s been here we’ve had a food pantry helping people in the community,” said Maj. Michael Rodgers, who heads the agency locally. Along with Surry residents, it assists out-of-state travelers who become stranded because of vehicle breakdowns or other problems while passing through on major highways such as Interstate 77 or U.S. 52.
“Every day we have folks coming in seeking help with food,” Rodgers added Friday. “We do have lots of requests.”
The Salvation Army official said of the two types of segments served, “we are hit pretty often from both of them.”
Not only are citizens of Surry County aided, but those in neighboring Alleghany and Virginia counties as well.
Each day, people representing 20 to 30 households seek food assistance, “between ones calling and walking in,” said Christy Rippey, a Salvation Army social worker, although not all those receive help for one reason or another.
Last month, food was distributed to 81 households, representing 217 people, according to statistics provided by Rippey.
The Salvation Army has limited financial resources to stock its food bank, and tries to make them stretch as far as possible by buying items from the Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem rather than regular retail outlets. There, products can be obtained at a discount rate. “They sell it for so much a pound,” Rodgers said of the food.
However, when local Salvation Army representatives journeyed to the Winston-Salem facility on Monday, they found its shelves bare as well. “They had none down there to purchase pretty much,” Rodgers said.
Rippey said only a small amount of produce was obtained, which isn’t that desirable because of its perishable qualities.
Help From Public
Items collected during local food drives usually go the Second Harvest Food Bank, which the Salvation Army then has to travel there to collect and haul back.
“But if we get the community to help us direct, that would be great — it would hold down some costs and be able to meet the need right here in our area,” Rodgers said.
The present situation has left the Salvation Army putting out an appeal for food donations from members of the community as well as monetary contributions that will be used to supply the pantry.
A variety of non-perishable canned goods are needed, such as vegetables, fruits and products including Spaghettios, Beanie-Weenies and canned meats. Also sought are Ramen noodles or other items that a family might be able to store in the kitchen.
Rodgers and Rippey further cited a need for “easy-open” foods or snacks that don’t require heating, which are supplied to travelers since they lack appliances. These can include such simple items as peanut butter and crackers.
Donations can be delivered to the Salvation Army headquarters at 651 S. South St., which is open on Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until around midday on Fridays. Also, food can be dropped off at the Salvation Army family store on Frederick Street on Friday evenings and Saturdays, which will be transferred to the food pantry.
Rodgers, who has served the Mount Airy Salvation Army for two years along with his wife, Maj. Susan Rodgers, said he has seen an increase in people requesting food during that time. Coupled with that need has been a decline in financial resources to meet it, he added.
Contact Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.