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'Limited in what's available': Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, partners facing challenges before holiday

Folks in counties like Wilcox, Baldwin, Bleckley, and Pulaski worry how they will feed their neighbors during the holidays.

PULASKI COUNTY, Ga. — Every week, the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank sends out their mobile food truck to help their many partner pantries. Ahead of Christmas, many folks look forward to the food these trucks bring.

This month, not everyone is getting their monthly stop. Folks in counties like Wilcox, Baldwin, Bleckley, and Pulaski counties worry how they will feed their neighbors during the holidays.

Since the pandemic, the food bank has been helping 24 counties fill the gap

"Mobile pantries were just there to bridge that gap based on what our partner agencies were doing and the need in each of these counties," says Kathy McCollum.

McCollum is the President & CEO of the Middle Georgia Food Bank. She says each month, they use this to assess where the trucks go.

"If we are going to a rural county on the third week of a month with a truck, but there are agencies that are open every day during the week during that month, I think that's a much better way," she says.

"This is really a point of making sure folks know about our partner agencies," says McCollum.

The food bank covers 190 food agencies that she says are always ready to serve.

Christian Friends Baptist Church partners with the Middle Georgia Food Bank along with the Lions Club and other churches. 

With Pulaski being a very low-rated economy, Maggie Bloodworth with Hawkinsville & Pulaski County Family Connection says this is a big resource in their community.

"We're pretty distressed, we're at a 92.6," she says

The Economic Innovation Group says 47% of adults in the county don't work, and they have a 20% poverty rate. 

The data also shows that 20% of their area doesn't have a high school diploma. Bloodworth says this makes it harder for them to get higher-paying jobs, which means smaller income.

Christian Friends Baptist and friends distribute food every second Monday through the donations brought in the Mobile Food Truck. This month, they won't be getting their monthly truck, which they say hasn't ever happened. 

They say it puts the community at a disadvantage because it serves nearly 300 families, and it's the only place folks can visit without scheduling an appointment. 

"We'll be very limited in what we'll be able to do because it's Pulaski County. We have resources, but we are limited in some. We aren't limited in volunteers, and we aren't limited in heart, but we are sometimes limited in what's available to us," she says.

They say they are limited in storage and equipment to properly store the meat and fresh produce the truck usually brings. Now, they won't have either. 

"By us not having it, it's horrible. There are so many people that depend on it each and every month, especially right before the holiday," says Nita Hughes.

Hughes is a volunteer and recipient of the food pantry. She says she is on disability. She says without the truck, you do what you must. 

"I'm on a very limited income, and with inflation and the prices of food, you just scale back on your meals," she says. 

She and others say the truck is important to their city and county. They say it feeds more than the 300 families they serve, because they often share with one another. 

"There's just so much good that it does, and you can just see the relief on people's faces that they know they're going to eat," said Hughes.

They say they really appreciate the partnership with the organization, and all the donations they receive. They hope to receive a truck again in January. 

On Monday, the folks at Christian Friends, the Lions Club and the surrounding churches are banding together to open their pantry

They say they can give away only canned goods and nonperishable foods.

They also have Blessing Boxes full of nonperishables around the county:

  • First Congressional Holy Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Pulaski 4-H Office
  • St. Luke's Episcopal Church
  • Smith Photography and Pageantry

You can find a food pantry connected to the Middle Georgia Food Bank near you at their website.

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