By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 12, 2013 1:46 PM
For two weeks the Salvation Army had to turn hungry people away.
"There's nothing more pitiful than a child standing there looking at you and you have no food to give them," Salvation Army Lt. Julie Igleheart said. "That's heart-wrenching."
But there was nothing the organization could do because, aside from several cans of green beans, there was no food on the pantry shelves to give out.
Today, though, those shelves are full again after Wayne County residents rallied to the call for help.
The bare shelves were a result of an unusual influx of people needing food and a major food drive that didn't happen this year. That meant there was less food to get the Salvation Army through the summer, and it ran short.
Local Salvation Army commander Lt. Kenny Igleheart said the organization usually gives out food to 60 families each month. But there were several recent months when that number jumped to 150.
After the Salvation Army's plight was made known, people rallied and began restocking the bare pantry shelves.
"The community has come out in droves to help us out," Mrs. Igleheart said. "People stop by every day with some food and say it's not much. But it will work for us. Every little bit helps. If everybody would bring just a small bag of groceries, our pantry would not ever be bare.
"We had a young lady, Miss English, write a letter to the editor about the bare pantry and she has got a stir going on. I can't get over how many people are calling to do food barrels because of her letter. People are bringing in food after food after food."
Each family that comes for help gets a box of food that consists of a couple of dry items, beans, noodles, spaghetti sauce, hearty soups and meats. Families can come in once every six months for assistance.
Mrs. Igleheart said the Salvation Army is still low on canned meats -- things like tuna, chicken, ham, beef stew and roast beef.
"We always like to put some kind of meat in the box," she said.
Mrs. Igleheart said people coming through the Salvation Army doors aren't always there because of poor planning.
"It's also because of something that's happened in their lives," she said. "They've been in the hospital, divorce, separation, loss of a home or a job. And some of the older people need to buy their medicine before they buy their food. But they need the food and medicine to coincide to keep them healthy. It's heart-wrenching to know that a person has to choose medicine over food."
And while the Salvation Army is thankful for the community's support, feeding the hungry is not a one-time thing. The need is there throughout the year.
"Just because we have food on the shelves this week doesn't mean that we'll have food on the shelves next week," Mrs. Igleheart said. "There's not a day that goes by that we don't give out food."
In addition to canned meats, the Salvation Army is still lacking other items such as breakfast items, hearty stews and ready to eat meals.
"They might not have enough money to buy meat and Hamburger Helper," Mrs. Igleheart said, "but if we can help them with the Hamburger Helper, then they can go buy a little bit of ground beef or chicken to go with that."
Anyone wanting to donate food may drop it off at the Salvation Army at 610 N. William St. Monetary donations will be used by the organization to buy food.
For more information about donating food, call 919-735-4811.
Volunteers also are needed to help sort donations and put the food on the pantry shelves.