While many of us equate Myrtle Beach, S.C., with family trips and fun in the sun, the senior citizens who showed up to Thursday’s Food Lion Feeds event served as a powerful reminder that hunger doesn’t take a vacation.
“One client who came through said that she and her 26-year-old son were so hungry and that she had been eating peanut butter for so long that her stomach hurt,” explained Lowcountry Food Bank’s Food Resource Manager Karen McManus, who assisted with the food distribution event held at the Church of the Resurrection.
“As she was leaving, with the Food Lion box and bag, she said, ‘Now I can go home and cook me a really good meal!’ And that just touches your heart,” added Pat Walker, President and CEO of the food bank.
While open to all, the event focused on seniors, who account for about 20 percent of those served by the food bank. Area Food Lion associates packed 380 food boxes, along with bags of fresh produce, at the church on Wednesday. The next day, volunteers greeted seniors and other local residents at a welcome tent on the front lawn of the church and invited them to have a snack and some cold water. Inside dozens of volunteers helped carry food boxes and bags out to recipients’ cars.
“A lot of people don’t get enough to eat,” explained Sarah Young, as she was leaving with a donation of fresh and packaged food. “There are a lot of seniors who need this. They are on a fixed income, and their money can only go so far.”
Volunteer Kimberly Lauren, who is an associate at the nearby Food Lion in Surfside Beach, said she saw a lot of regular customers in line to receive food donations.
Conway, S.C. Store Manager and volunteer Darry Watts said he has noticed a change in customers’ shopping habits. Many are opting for private label brands now, instead of national brands, and choosing less expensive types of meat to stretch their dollar more.
Larry Nowak, a parishioner and volunteer at the church’s food pantry, noted that there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to food insecurity. He recalled one time when a family pulled up to the church in a fairly new van, and some of the food pantry volunteers whispered that they didn’t look that needy. “Then someone about three paces back in the line said, ‘Maybe you should know that the family is living in that van. That’s all they’ve got. They’ve lost their house. They’ve lost everything.’”
Thursday’s event and others like it help local residents find not only food to put on their table but also hope, knowing that others care about them.
John, a Vietnam veteran, arrived with his grandson and grandson’s friend. “I’m just thankful for being alive, for my family and for the generous people around here.”
For further information: Erin DeWaters: 704-310-2858; firstname.lastname@example.org