Food Banks Flourish in Lynchburg
Food banks and food pantries feed a lot of people in Lynchburg. Some are operated through area churches, some through city and state agencies, some through private non-profit shelters and transition homes and others serve full meals to the hungry.
Feeding the hungry in Lynchburg is a vast undertaking in that experts estimate that one in ten of our residents don’t know where their next meal is coming from; other experts say it is more like one in six.
Whatever it is, it represents a lot of people that need help and the network of food banks and the organizations to service them are much like a spiders web; interconnected and strong. Another good analogy would be a multi-level-marketing network, narrow at the top and spreading out in branches as we go down the “pyramid”.
If not the top of the pyramid, Feeding America is certainly near the top.
They claim to be the “leading domestic hunger relief charity” in the United States feeding “37 million Americans each year” through their “food bank network members”.
Feeding America has several classes of partners that each play a vital role in getting food from producers and major retailers to the food banks and on to the empty bellies that need it.
Leadership partners are such firms as ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Food Lion, Kroger, Wal-Mart and many more. Mission Partners are also large corporations the like of Bank of America, Chase, Unilever, Tyson’s and many more.
Supporting Partners, Promotional Partners, Celebrity Partners, Media Partners and a host of related organizations all make it happen according to their areas of expertise and resources.
Going down one level we have Feeding America Southwest Virginia that services 26 counties and municipalities including Lynchburg.
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Next in line is the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank which is a member of Feeding America. BRAFB is a huge 30 year old conduit that serves 26 counties and 9 cities.
On average, they feed 145,000 people each year through a network of food banks and pantries, churches, schools, shelters, “soup kitchens” and many other non-profit organizations.
Blue Ridge distributes about 1.6 million pounds of food a year of which a little over 98 percent comes from Feeding America. The rest is from local farmers, gleaning networks, The Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, VA and The Volunteer Farm of Woodstock, VA.
The food is distributed to “partner agencies” in a particular locale which distribute it directly to families as well as other smaller distribution points. The food is either provided to the needy as prepared meals or packaged foodstuffs to be carried home.
In Lynchburg and surrounding counties there are around 25 such partner agencies. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank maintains an online locator to find specific agencies.
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Rather than discuss all 25 of the Lynchburg area Food Bank partner agencies, we will look at two of them as being fairly representative of the whole group.
Within Lynchburg City a few of the largest food banks include the Park View Community Mission, Lynchburg Community Action Group and The Daily Bread.
Lynchburg Community Action Group was covered on a previous page so the Park View Community Mission and Daily Bread will be featured.
Park View Community Mission
Park View Community Mission is a major labor of love of the Park View United Methodist Church at 2420 Memorial Avenue. Wednesday suppers have been a church tradition since anyone can remember.
As the story goes, about 15 years ago to hungry laborers showed up at one of the Wednesday night fellowship suppers looking for a bite to eat. Following Jesus’ direction to Peter to “Feed My Sheep”, the church welcomed the two, invited them to dinner and asked them to come back the following week.
They did and brought three more hungry people with them. From humble beginnings great works often grow and the Park View Community Mission is what grew from an obedient church feeding five hungry people.
From those first five people, the Park view Community Mission has now grown to the point that in 2010 it provided 545,000 pounds of food to 21,000 people. It is projected that this year the amount of food provided will approach one million pounds.
This is in the form of prepared meals served at their Wednesday evening fellowship dinners in the church basement and giving away grocery carts full of food to families on a monthly basis on Saturday mornings.
The Lynchburg News and Advance ran a nice article with some great photos of the Park View Community Mission food bank operations on May 12, 2011. Check it out.
Next we go to see the Daily Bread to see what they do.The Daily Bread
The Daily Bread located at 721 Clay Street, just up the street from the Jail house, serves two main functions; they feed people and provide a day shelter every day. They are open for daily meal service from 10:50 to 12:20 in their dining room and from 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm the dining area becomes the day shelter.
On average, the shelter is used by 40 people a day and they typically serve 100 or so meals every day or around 40,000 meals per year. Meal service is conducted by area volunteers who prepare, cook and serve the meals to guests seated at the numerous tables.
The food that is served is donated by Lynchburg groceries, businesses, individuals and restaurants. Some is obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture surplus and what is needed but not donated is purchased with Daily Bread funds. Any food in excess of their needs is shared with other local assistance organizations.
Obviously, donations are needed and greatly appreciated and can be easily made by visa or MasterCard merely by going to the bottom of the Daily Bread website. Donations can also be mailed directly to the Daily Bread at 721 Clay Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504.
Monetary donations are great but other goods are needed as well. For example, in 2003, Dodson Pest Control donated a small Chevy S-10 pickup truck to Daily Bread to use in picking up food or making other errands. If you have goods to donate, call the Daily Bread at 434-845-5703 to discuss it with their staff.
Having visited Park View Community Mission and the Daily Bread, we drop down one level in the hierarchy to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.Neighborhood Ministries: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Moving down the pyramid from the Food Bank partner agencies, we come to the smaller distribution centers, typically a neighborhood church.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is a perfect example of a church ministry set up to ease the food burden for low income families in a neighborhood setting. Located at 1000 Langhorne Road just off Rivermont Avenue, Holy Trinity Lutheran is perfectly situated to serve the Rivermont Area.
It is no coincidence then that the churches mission to feed the hungry is called the “Rivermont Area Emergency Food Pantry”. Residents don’t normally associate the Rivermont Avenue corridor with hunger but nevertheless, the need is there and in 2010 around 3200 people were being fed by Holy Trinity’s food pantry.
Other churches in the vicinity, such as Peakland Baptist, assist with volunteers to unload trucks, restock the pantry, pack bags of food for families that will soon arrive to pick them up and anything else that needs doing.
Barrels to collect food donations from congregation members are a permanent fixture in many churches. When they are filled, off they go to one of the nearby food pantries.
In addition to supporting the local food banks, many churches deliver complete meals to area families during special holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Lynchburg does not like to see people go hungry and the generous outpouring of donated food and volunteered time and effort are testament to the fact that Lynchburg Cares.
Navigate over to Lynchburg Grows; the Community Garden
Jump over to the Lynchburg Community Action Group
See what Miriam's House is doing
Navigate back to Lynchburg Cares
See what Educational Opportunities exist in Lynchburg
What's the Economic Outlook in Lynchburg?