CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte food pantry serving a record number of families is preparing to help more this year.
Hope Street Food Pantry, a ministry of Hope Church, recently purchased a larger truck that will allow the nonprofit organization to transport more food from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to its facility.
A $10,000 grant from the American Heart Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina helped make the purchase possible.
“I’m very hopeful because I can see that there's a ton of room to grow and seeing that the investment that we're making, they move so quickly… and it's already having an impact in the community,” American Heart Association’s Community Impact Director Hector Salgado says.
Hope Street Food Pantry Director Melody Leedy says in the past, they were limited because they only had a small truck.
“If we don't have enough room to get free or reduced priced food, then we have to turn it down. That’s food that we've had to turn down that we could give to our community,” Leedy says.
As part of a federal program, the pantry can receive free produce.
“That’s one thing that we wouldn't be able to get if we didn't have a big enough truck because you just can't get it back to your facility, but produce is very expensive in the store. A lot of times, that's what people aren't purchasing with their food stamps or their little bit of money,” Leedy says.
In 2019, the food pantry served 6,531 people, and in 2020 that number nearly quadrupled to 25,873.
“At least 20 new families every week that have never used a food pantry in their life. Just a lot of different clientele that you typically wouldn't be serving without a crisis,” Leedy says.
Briana Tichnor, a teenager volunteering at the pantry, has noticed an increase in need. She bags groceries for clients who visit their weekly grocery distribution.
She’s happy the new purchase will allow them to serve more families, and she plans to continue doing her part to help neighbors in need.
“Some of these people don’t have everything that all of us have, so just being out here knowing people are getting a little more than what they have is pretty cool,” Tichnor says.
The American Heart Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina awarded a total of $28,000 to community organizations in the Charlotte area. Camino Community Center, McLeod Addictive Disease Center, Inc, and Presbyterian Hospital Foundation were some of the other recipients. These organizations are working to improve heart health among North Carolinians most at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.