07/16/14 — More seeking help for food

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More seeking help for food

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on July 16, 2014 1:46 PM

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Anne Smith and her daughter, Cheryl Wiseman, pick out items at the food pantry giveaway held at the House of Fordham on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both are grateful for the help as Ms. Smith is living on Social Security and Ms. Wiseman on disability.

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A patron of the food pantry held at the House of Fordham picks out fruits and vegetables.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, a crowd forms on Park Avenue. In small clusters, directed by a man in a yellow vest, they cross the street and enter the basement of the House of Fordham. Then, they get food.

Through food donations from grocery stores, farmers, community members and food banks, the House of Fordham is able to distribute food to those in need in Goldsboro, allowing everybody who shows up to walk away with one of everything.

"Nobody leaves empty-handed," said Odell Bowden, who works for the charity. "Everybody gets something. We might run a little short at times, but we always make sure everybody gets something."

A few blocks over, every Monday through Saturday, another group lines up to receive food from the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro. The soup kitchen serves between 150 to 200 meals for lunch per day.

Both locations have seen a significant increase of those in need in recent years.

"We're not just serving the homeless or those in poverty anymore," said Doricia Benton, director of the Community Soup Kitchen. "We're also serving the working poor, or those who use this as a way to supplement their income so they can afford gas to and from work, or who can save money by not having to buy lunch that day."

The soup kitchen has seen about a 14 percent increase, serving 3,000 more meals at the end of June than were served by the end of June 2013.

Bowden said those who come for food are not abusing the system. Those who come need the help, he said.

"We've always had far more success with this system than there are people that take advantage of it."

Before community members receive food from the House of Fordham, they must provide their name at the entrance, show a form of picture identification and sign a form confirming that they have received the food.

The supply of food varies from day to day, as the House of Fordham depends entirely on donations and receives no grants.

At the Soup Kitchen, Mrs. Benton said the economy is changing her clientele -- and bringing more people to the charity's door.

Demand for food in the community has climbed in recent years due to "things not leveling off with the economy and employment," she said. "We've got people working that can't afford to eat, and we've got more homelessness and poverty, and people in the community that need help."

The House of Fordham is also feeling the impact.

"It stays at a consistently high volume year round," said pastor Linda Burroughs, director of the House of Fordham. "It is a constant flow because of the economy and unemployment levels."

Yet, even though the demand has increased, these places are generally able to keep up with the swell of those in need.

"We couldn't do all this without the good Lord providing," Bowden said. "It's hard to describe the experience of seeing the joy in a child's eyes when they realize they're going to be able to eat."

While they are currently able to keep up with the demand, Mrs. Benton estimates the soup kitchen will serve 45,000 more meals than it did last year.

Donations are always welcome for both locations. To donate, call the House of Fordham at 919-736-7352, or call the Community Soup Kitchen at 919-731-3939.