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Grocery store chain fills CCM’s pantry

Posted: January 31, 2015 1:53 p.m.
Updated: February 2, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Two volunteers help to stock jars of jelly in the CCM food pantry.

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On Jan. 27, a truck pulled up to Christian Community Ministries (CCM) at the United Way’s Holstein Building on DeKalb Street in Camden and unloaded enough food to stock CCM’s pantry -- twice.

CCM of Kershaw County provides food for the hungry of Kershaw County through its food pantry. The faith-based interdenominational crises ministry helps with financial counseling, housing, utility issues and with supplying food. Although community organizations hold food drives for CCM, sometimes the supply runs low.

CCM’s food pantry manager, Robin McAlpine, said it happens sporadically.

“But I would say that we run the lowest in September and October. We seem to always be in need of jelly, dried beans, rice, dried pasta, boxed macaroni and cheese, and breakfast items, such as cereal, oatmeal, and grits,” McAlpine said.

About three months ago, McAlpine noticed that supplies -- specifically bags -- were dwindling.

“We have clients who we put food in boxes for. Sometimes, clients don’t have transportation, so we put the food in bags for them,” McAlpine said.

When she noticed the shortage of bags, McAlpine began looking for more.

Her search eventually took her to Food Lion’s corporate website where she noticed a section for grants. She emailed a request for bags to the company. Two months later, the grocery store chain granted her request and sent her reusable mesh shopping bags.

Around the same time, the pantry began to run out of jelly -- a staple of CCM’s food boxes so recipients can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. McAlpine said the food pantry also began to run out of dried foods.

Since food for the pantry is supplied by volunteers, McAlpine frequently seeks food donations from organizations.

“Our food pantry is solely supported by donations, our money goes towards helping people in emergency situations,” McAlpine said.

She decided to send Food Lion another grant request.

“It is very typical that our supplies go down right before the Thanksgiving season. We were getting kind of low. I thought, what would happen if I did that grant again? I didn’t think anything about it, didn’t hear anything. Then about three weeks ago I got an email from a guy from the corporate office,” McAlpine said.

She was hoping, at the very least, for two boxes of jelly.

“They told me, ‘We received your request and we will give you jelly, restock your food supplies and give you enough for back stock,’” McAlpine said, amazed at the offer. “Apparently when you do these grants it goes to a committee and they meet quarterly. I had no idea what I was doing; it has snowballed. (Camden Food Lion Manager Johnny Beeker) told me to send him of list of things we needed. He came to the pantry and made a pretty detailed list.”

McAlpine said she wasn’t sure how much food to expect but that she and other volunteers begin to make room in the pantry.

Then, on Jan. 27, the truck pulled up to CCM with approximately 400 cases of canned goods and 200 cases of dried food items. Thirteen Food Lion employees helped unload the truck and stock the food.

“The food that was donated will probably remain in storage about four to six months. Some foods are in more abundance than others -- for example, we have more canned fruit than jelly -- but in approximately four to six months, all the food donated will have been given to CCM clients,” McAlpine said.

CCM clients go through an interview process to assess their needs and their crises situation. Volunteers at CCM prepare food boxes/bags for families or individuals and distribute them according to that need.

“We have eight to nine volunteers who work solely in the food pantry and prepare boxes. There is a certain amount of food we give- every person in the family gets standard amount of beans, cereal, etc.,” McAlpine said.

She said she is thankful for the help Food Lion provided for the pantry, amazed at the amount given and at the offer to be told that she could continue to request assistance, if needed..

“To know I can ask for more and might get it -- that’s when the story took on a life of its’ own,” McAlpine said. “That’s why we do what we do: to help people.” 

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