Community partners establish emergency food program

Community partners establish emergency food program
Volunteers work at Henry County Food Pantry to pack boxes ahead of distribution to community members.

April 10, 2020

The Harvest Foundation will fund a short-term, collaborative feeding program to support families who are food insecure as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

Harvest recently provided a $146,000 grant to the Henry County Food Pantry to establish and coordinate the short-term feeding program for families in Martinsville-Henry County.

“While the foundation typically does not fund basic human services, we now find ourselves in an atypical situation dealing with the fallout from coronavirus,” said DeWitt House, senior program officer at The Harvest Foundation. “We’ve rallied with our partners to deliver emergency services that will navigate us through this challenging environment. Supporting Martinsville-Henry County remains our primary mission at Harvest, and we will continue to work with our community partners in order to achieve that mission.”

Food distribution will take place weekly on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors are asked to stay in their vehicle during distribution to limit contact. Volunteers will place food in the vehicle.

Residents of Martinsville-Henry County can pick up food boxes beginning Monday, April 13 from the following sites:

  • Henry County Food Pantry, located at 3321 Fairystone Park Hwy, Bassett;
  • Grace Network of Martinsville-Henry County, located at 16 Liberty St. Ext., Martinsville;
  • Salvation Army, located at 603 Memorial Blvd. South, Martinsville;
  • Rich Acres Christian Church, 422 Mountain View Road, Martinsville;
  • The Community Fellowship, located at 2674 Virginia Ave., Collinsville.

Due to limited resources and anticipated demand, each family is only able to receive ONE BOX OF FOOD EACH MONTH. This is to ensure that all families in the community in need receive at least some assistance from this program each month. This policy will be evaluated weekly based on demand, available resources, and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regulations. If one box a month does not adequately meet a family’s needs, site managers will work to find alternate solutions.

“Ensuring that all individuals in our community have access to food is incredibly important,” said Philip Wenkstern, executive director of the United Way Henry County & Martinsville. “We know that the need for nutritional assistance will only increase in the coming weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic causes additional hardships. We are overjoyed that so many organizations throughout Martinsville and Henry County recognized this challenge and banded together to develop a plan to meet the needs of our community.”

Tracy Hinchcliff, executive director of Grace Network, said she is very excited about being part of this food program.

“We know that there are lots of folks hurting in our community and we hope that this project will help those in need,” she said. “We look forward to being able to get back to our regular hours and services soon, but until the COVID-19 situation changes, we are here to help get food to those that need it the most. Thank you to the Harvest Foundation and the other partners that have come together to meet the need.”

Pastor Michael Harrison, the lead pastor of The Community Fellowship, said this program is meeting a real need “at a critical time in our community.”

“It is an honor to partner with like-minded people and organizations to make a difference in our community,” he said. “Our church has set this as our goal since the beginning, to serve those who are hungry, hurting or homeless.”

"Protecting the health and safety of our community members is our highest priority during this heightened time of need," said April Haynes, regional vice president of Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia-Martinsville. "For many families in our community, maintaining adequate household resources is a huge challenge, especially if they're facing job changes due to COVID-19. We're here to do what we can to support them and to help them find their way back to sustainability."

Partners in this effort include Henry County Food Pantry, Grace Network of Martinsville-Henry County, United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, Salvation Army Martinsville VA Corps, The Community Fellowship, the Community Foundation of Western Virginia Serving Western Virginia, Rich Acres Christian Church, and The Harvest Foundation.

Angie Smith, social services director with the Salvation Army, added that this partnership will allow the Salvation Army to meet community needs more efficiently.

If you are food insecure and need assistance, contact Grace Network at (276) 638-8500 to find out more information. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, call (276) 403-4226. Phone lines will be open and staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit www.theharvestfoundation.org/covid-19 to read more about what the community is doing to mitigate the challenges caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus).




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