Christian Outreach food bank overwhelmed

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

By Elizabeth Pattman

Staff writer

Early last week, Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program faced a crisis. The food bank had run out of food.

According to Barbara Stafford, president of COP, the food bank was “overwhelmed” by people coming in to collect food on June 4. As the shelves grew bare, the organization was forced to close down at noon that day.

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“We could have stayed open, but we would not have been able to give the quantity or quality that most of our clients expect,” Stafford said of the decision to shut down early.

Following the closure, COP volunteers went shopping to replenish the shelves, however, this is not a permanent solution. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

After Smithfield’s Farm Fresh — which was a major contributor to local food banks such as COP and the Foodbank of Southeast Virginia and the Eastern Shore, according to Stafford—closed for renovations after being sold to Kroger, the organization has struggled to keep a fully stocked pantry without donations.

“Supplies are very, very low,” Stafford said. “There is a shortage all around.”

With the school year coming to an end, Stafford is also concerned about the number of children in the community who may no longer be receiving breakfast and lunch each day as they do at school. COP is trying to be prepared to dole out that extra food.

After last Monday afternoon’s shopping trip, the organization was able to open as usual on Wednesday and continue serving the community. 

COP, however, is seeking community donations to keep their shelves stocked.

The organization is in need of canned meats, like pork and beans; canned vegetables, like corn or green beans; jars of pasta sauce, peanut butter and jelly, cereals, pastas and other non-perishable food items.

“I would be more than happy for the community to rally around and bring us food,” Stafford said. “I know our community will rise to the occasion.”

Donations can be dropped off at Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program, 402 Grace St. in Smithfield, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  {/mprestriction}