BLACKSBURG, Va. – As shelves at food pantries across the country are emptying because of the coronavirus, a haul of hope arrived at the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry Thursday afternoon.
A tractor-trailer delivered 44,000 pounds of nonperishable food, including spaghetti, beans and flour. Instead of using volunteers to help unload the truck, the pantry used a forklift so they could maintain social distancing.
The food was donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was organized by missionary Jackie Groesbeck.
“All I could think of was all the people who could benefit from this,” Groesdbeck said. "To feed their families and themselves. So, I was just thrilled.”
Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry Director Vern Simpson said this is the pantry’s biggest donation ever.
“By far," Simpson said. "By at least double or maybe triple the biggest donation we’ve ever gotten. It’s just wonderful.”
The pantry received so much food, they decided to share it with two different pantries in Pulaski. Half the food will be split between Beans and Rice, Inc. and City of Refuge in Pulaski.
Joe Blankenship, the president of City of Refuge in Pulaski, said because of COVID-19, the 500 people the pantry normally serves every month skyrocketed to 2,200.
“It’s pretty rough times right now. You know, a lot of people are out of work. We service a lot of people as it is, but now with everything going on, we’re just seeing more numbers coming,” Blankenship said.
The Interfaith Food Pantry in Blacksburg also wants to share some food with pantries in Giles and Floyd counties.
Believe it or not, all that food will only last several months at the Blacksburg pantry. That’s why workers said they’re still relying on donations from the community since the pantry can’t buy wholesale or from grocery stores anymore during the pandemic.
At a time when food pantries across the country are worried if they’ll be able to meet the needs in their communities, these volunteers said, no matter what you believe, this donation is a blessing.
“It doesn’t matter what your faith is or your religion," Groesbeck said. "That we can all work together to help the people in our community.”