Feeding Highlands County
JOE SEELIGSEBRING - There was a loud rustling of paper bags Monday in the sanctuary at the Sebring Church of the Nazarene as volunteers loaded hundreds of bags with food in preparation of a mass food distribution for needy families Saturday.
Published: October 23, 2012
Published: October 23, 2012
The church will distribute the food from 9 a.m. onward until it is gone Saturday, on behalf of the Heartland Food Reservoir and Feeding America Tampa Bay.
The church is located at 420 S. Pine St., at the corner of South Commerce Avenue in downtown Sebring.
Pastor Angelo Trunzo said the church already has its own food ministry but is doing this for the Sebring community on behalf of Feeding America.
"They're providing the food," he said. "We're just their agent."
They plan to have enough food for the 300 to 350 cars, he said.
"How many families are represented in those vehicles, I don't know," he said, but each vehicle will receive one unit of food. By "unit" he meant one big bag – which could contain two or three smaller bags of groceries.
"We're inviting any needy family and their good buddy to come in," said Ethel Summers, director of the church's House of Hope Ministries, Monday.
It will be on a first-come, first-served basis, she said.
The Heartland Food Reservoir sent over loads of cereal and canned goods already, said Carol Bogdan, who sits on the food reservoir's board of directors, on Monday.
Several of Bogdan's volunteers from the food reservoir will be at the church on Saturday to see who is served.
"We want to know how many people are served and how many families are helped," she said.
Several church volunteers picked up boxes of food Monday morning from the Heartland Food Reservoir, which was collected at Ag Venture, in preparation for the distribution.
There were dozens of boxes of canned goods spread out all over the sanctuary tables.
"All this food was donated at the Ag Venture," Summers said. "That's a blessing because we didn't think we'd get that much food and the community came through."
The last time the church did this was nearly two years ago, in November of 2010. Back then they served about 250 cars, Trunzo said he was told.
He just arrived as the church's new pastor in August.
This is for needy families; not people who just want some free food, Summers emphasized.
"We'll be at the church today bagging the food," Summers said. "We have 192 bags started."
The actual paper and plastic bags were donated by Publix and Sweetbay supermarkets.
Summers had about 10 volunteers there Monday, including Jamey Craven who has been out of work for about a month.
Saturday, they hope to have about 40 volunteers, she said.
Craven will be one of the volunteers, but there's no special treatment. His wife or mother-in-law will wait in line same as anyone else, getting food for the family, he said.
"They'll be running around here like ants," she said. "Some of them will be working out at the street and others will be in here. We'll have some tables out on the side of the road where we'll be gathering their information, to make sure they're from Highlands County."
Ethel Summers' husband LaVerne Summers helped load the bags. They put five or six cans in a bag whether it is green beans, soup, or whatever, plus cans of juice and cereal.
"…Then Saturday morning we'll get some kind of meat and some kind of produce to add to it," he said. "Whatever comes in (from the food reservoir); we won't know until Saturday morning at 7 a.m."
She said their monthly food pantry was closed in September because they didn't have enough food to give out, but they reopened it in October.
Before last month, the church had been feeding about 250 families each month, she said, but the state of the economy has created a greater need.
"We have 60 new people this month," she said, which is about 20 new families.
Anyone wishing to make a donation of food or money they can call the church office at 385-0400 or put a check in the mail to Sebring Church of the Nazarene (mark food pantry on the check) and the church will spend it at the Heartland Food Reservoir.