By LISA SIMPSON STRANGE
Glasgow Daily Times
A community food drive that was initiated last year will kick off again in August.
“To the Brim,” an effort to fill the pantries of local relief agencies, will have a second annual food drive from Aug. 23-29. Donations of non-perishable food items, especially those with long shelf lives are needed. Churches, clubs, businesses and other organizations all work to collect food for the cause.
Dr. Bharat Mody, a local surgeon and philanthropist, spearheaded the effort last year when he saw a need in the community for the availability of more food for families that were in need of a helping hand.
Mody has been meeting with representatives of area grocery stores recently to begin plans for next month’s drive. Houchens Industries, Food Lion and Walmart are some of the businesses that will be involved with the food collections.
According to Chris Holley, regional manager for Houchens, their program is still in the planning phase, but should be finalized in the next week or so. That plan is to get customers involved by Houchens matching what they purchase in the stores for the food drive. That may be bags of pre-selected items that customers buy and then the stores match the donations.
Houchens stores in East Tennessee have taken part in similar food drives in the past, Holley said, and the local stores are going to participate in some capacity this year.
“We will be involved for sure,” he said.
Food Lion has their own system where customers are encouraged to buy items at a discount and then the store donates the difference, according to Mody. Volunteers will stand outside Walmart during that week passing out pamphlets with information about the food drive and taking donations from the public.
The food pantry at Community Relief Fund, which consists of three separate rooms in the basement of the building, is well-stocked currently, according to Sue Haynes, CRF executive director, but that probably won’t last much longer.
“Right now, it’s stable, but it’s getting bad,” Haynes said.
With the local unemployment rate still hovering above a double-digit percentage and cost of living prices continuing to rise, the situation doesn’t appear to be getting much better.
“More people are losing jobs, they’re getting higher utilities. It’s a balancing act,” she said. “We’re seeing more needs that are truly (people) in need – grown men crying, so grateful to get food for their families.”
While the pantry needs all types of non-perishables, foods with higher protein content such as tuna and peanut butter – things children can fix for themselves and that are fast to prepare – are always in high demand. People giving food from home should also check expiration dates on items before donating them.
There is also a great demand for diapers, cleaning products and back-to-school supplies, according to Haynes.
Anyone can organize a food drive at places of work or worship, meetings, in neighborhoods or schools. The food drive will also help the Housing Authority, Barren River Area Safe Space and other agencies that can all get food from the CRF food pantry. It’s a communitywide drive for the whole community, Haynes said.
“Last year was probably the best food drive we’ve ever had. Hopefully, this year will be even better,” she said.
Even though the food drive is still more than a month away, people can begin collecting items now, Haynes said, and the volunteers will pick them up ahead of time if needed.
“Go ahead and collect stuff and if you’re overwhelmed with it, call us and we’ll come and get it,” she said. “Put a note on your refrigerator, whatever, that this is coming up. Keep it in the back of your mind,” Haynes said.
The food drive will benefit the Community Relief Fund, Salvation Army Service Unit of Glasgow-Barren County and PathFinders Inc. of Cave City.
Donation sites to drop off food include the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce, 118 East Public Square; Community Relief, 123 East Washington St., call Sue Haynes at 651-9006; Habitat ReStore, 506 West Main St.; Community Medical Care, 101 State Ave., Suite C, call Tina Combs at 659-0229; Dr. Bharat Mody, 201 Professional Park Drive, call Dr. Mody at 651-8789; Cave City Chamber of Commerce, 418 Mammoth Cave St., call Carol DeGroft at 773-5159; Cream & Sugar Cafe, 105 Broadway St., Cave City; Walmart, 2345 Happy Valley Road; all Houchens stores in Glasgow and Cave City; and Food Lion in Glasgow.