Sandwiches and saleds are kept in the fridges to distribute to the area of Columbia. Harvest Hope proportions its food by the number of children in the family as to not over distribute.
Larry Clark drives his friend to Harvest Hope to get her groceries. He has been making trips to Harvest Hope since he volunteered for his Boy Scout troop in grade school.
The Emergency Food Bank part of the Harvest Hope is full of canned goods. In this case though, it is looking a little empty.
By Parks Beson
Exodus Jackson comes to Harvest Hope Food Bank every few months to pick up food to stretch his grocery budget.
“Every little bit helps. Some of these people can only come here to get the food that they need and we all need to get some help,” said Jackson, a Columbia resident, said. “I would help out if I had the money.”
But he worries that his food lifeline might come to an end at the food bank. This year, money and food donations to Harvest Hope are dwindling.
The Columbia-based Harvest Hope provides food to the homeless and people who are struggling to make ends meet. It is the largest food bank in the Midlands and supplied more than 29 million meals last year.
It is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and volunteers around the area. Last year alone, Harvest Hope had as many as 6,300 volunteers in the Midlands.
While Harvest Hope’s Marketing Manager Jamie Peebles insists that they are fine as of now, the food bank is putting out a call this week for donations.
“I think this is just fantastic,” Melissa Lifsey said. “There is a lot of unemployment and a lot of need in our community and to be able to come down here and get the food that we need at a reasonable price really helps us help a lot of people in the community.”
Lifsey makes a weekly trip to Harvest Hope for her church in Chester, South Carolina. Lifsey’s church, Purity Presbyterian Church, runs a food distribution agency called Chester Counties Ministerial Association Food Bank.
Because Harvest Hope being the largest food bank in South Carolina, some of the people in the area rely solely on Harvest Hope for their weekly meals.
Peebles said the food bank gets the most donations are around Christmas and Thanksgiving.
“We have a seasonal variation of what we get in. Holiday times, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we get a lot of donations in. Then we experience a natural lull, typically in the spring,” Peebles said. “For some reason, we are running a lot lower than usual, and struggling to meet the needs of the families we feed a week.”
Although the two big food-based holidays have passed, spring break is coming up for schools. That means families will be looking toward Harvest Hope for food to feed to their hungry children.
Although it is located in Columbia, Harvest Hope distributes to more than 20 counties throughout central South Carolina. With 25 years of experience as food distribution agency, it has become one of the biggest and well-known in the state, serving to nearly half of the state. Their mission is to provide for the needs of hungry people by gathering and sharing quality food with dignity, compassion and education.
On Tuesday, Larry Clark provided a ride for a friend and helped her load groceries into his car that she needed for the month.
“It’s weird because I used to volunteer at these places, and people always donate more during the holiday time of the year,” Clark said. “People always over-donate and will always throw stuff out because they-over donate. They need to just donate throughout the year.”
Harvest Hope is looking for donations from anyone who can help. You can donate by going to their website, www.harvesthope.org, click on the “ways to give” tab, and click either the “donate money” link or “donate food” link.