ROCKINGHAM COUNTY — A whopping tractor trailer shipment from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints will help Rockingham County’s hungry put 40,000 pounds of food on the table this year.
The palettes of non-perishable food arrived in Greensboro from the church’s national headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday as a donation to Rockingham County’s 11th Annual Countywide Food Drive. The effort supplies the cupboards of some seven agencies that support the hungry in this rural county of roughly 91,000 where food insecurity is high.
“Hunger doesn’t go away,” said Blake Dawson, co-chairman of this year’s drive. “In fact, our agencies are seeing record numbers of people coming in to get food for their families,’’ Dawson said recently of need during the pandemic.
Indeed, more than 18% of Rockingham Countians live in poverty—well over the statewide average poverty rate of 13.6%, U.S. Census statistics show. And Dawson noted he’s seen former volunteers for the food drive enter the lines of the needy this year.
On Friday morning, representatives from Rockingham’s charitable organizations gathered at the loading dock of Bishop’s Storehouse on Lakeside Drive in Greensboro to divide the food stock from the church’s Utah-based Humanitarian Project and transport it back to their respective clients.
Agencies included: Cooperative Christian Ministries, Hands of God of Rockingham County, Men in Christ Ministries, Reidsville Soup Kitchen, Rockingham County Veterans Coalition and The Salvation Armies of Reidsville, Eden and Western Rockingham County.
“Thank you for being here. We’re all in this together. I think the Lord has commanded all of us to bear the burden … to comfort those in need,’’ said James Carlson, the new president for the Greensboro Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. “It doesn’t matter what religion we are part of … we are all brothers and sisters here to help each other.’’
The 40,000-pound donation – about 150% of what the drive usually receives from the church — means security for the county, said Neil Jacques, also a co-chair of the food drive.
“In this difficult period of the pandemic, this adds a level of security that when people go to our soup kitchens and our food pantries, they are able to know that there will be good food there,’’ Jacques said. “This is a great blessing,’’ he said, explaining such security helped agencies focus on their true goals. For example, “Our friends of veterans can focus their efforts on helping people as opposed to constantly scrambling for food.’’
The food drive extends through the end of April, Jacques reminded. “People can make cash donations. And non-food items … toiletries … toilet paper … that people would need … are a blessing,’’ he said.
And every can counts toward helping those in need, Jacques assured.
“We look at all this food and think a couple of cand of this or that can’t mean much, but it’s every can that makes a difference.’’
Donations of time are touching, he said. “
“Its inspiring to see these people who are volunteers.. They are doing this because it’s the right thing to do. For some it’s love of Jesus Christ, or commitment to the veterans.’’
Steve Bragdon, a volunteer for the veteran’s coalition, helped load trucks bound for Rockingham on Friday.
“Many of our veterans these days are homeless or living alone and money’s tight,’’ he said. “And for us to help them out as fellow veterans it means a lot to us, especially with the church’s help. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.’’
The City of Eden has long been a strong supporter of the food drive. Interim Fire Chief Todd Harden put out boxes at the local fire departments in February and plans to give the food collected by the firefighters to the Rockingham County Veterans pantry, he said.
This year, most county fire departments are serving as convenient food donation drop-off points for people who live in the county’s most rural areas. Many have been involved for several years, Dawson said.
“It’s just easier for someone drop of food at the local department or hand a bag of food to a neighbor who is a firefighter in these times when social distancing is a high priority for most citizens,” Dawson said. “Several departments have done this in the past and brought in quite a bit of food on the final day.”
Several agencies that benefit from the collection efforts also provide food for the backpack programs in the local schools. Even though the schools have been closed for most of the school year, school staffs have worked to make sure children who otherwise might go hungry still get their backpacks filled with food to take home.
Among county donation drop-off spots for non-perishable foods and toiletries are:
Rockingham County Governmental Center Main Lobby, 371 NC Hwy. 65, Reidsville. Eden Public Library, 598 S. Pierce Street, Eden. -Madison-Mayodan Public Library, 611 Burton Street, Madison. -Reidsville Public Library, 204 W. Morehead Street, Reidsville. -Stoneville Public Library, 201 E. Main Street, Stoneville. -Rockingham County Animal Shelter, 250 Cherokee Camp Rd., Wentworth. -Rockingham County Register of Deeds, 170 NC 65, Suite 150, Wentworth.-Rockingham County Board of Elections, 240 Cherokee Camp Rd., Wentworth.
Possible non-perishable food donations may include:
Breakfast FoodsCereal, Pop Tarts, pancake mix, syrup, oatmeal, cream of wheat, jams & jellies, peanut butter.
Canned MeatsTuna, Vienna sausages, Beanie Weenies, sardines, Spam, chicken, beef chunks, beef stew.
PastasChef-Boy-ar-Dee, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad mixes, spaghetti sauces, spaghetti, noodles, macaroni, ramen noodles.
DessertsPuddings, canned fruit cups, cake mixes and frostings, brownie and cookie mixes, cookies.
Canned and Baked GoodsFruits, vegetables, soups, flour, cornmeal, various mixes.
BackPack for KidsRamen noodles, individual peanut butter servings, puddings, canned fruit cups, ravioli, Spaghetti-0s, instant cup soups, Pop- Tarts, granola bars, individual macaroni and cheese cups.
For additional information, call 336-613-6292, 336-432-2843, or 336-627-1256.