By 11 o’clock last Wednesday morning, it was standing room only - and that was just in the parking lot outside of the Community Action for Improvement (CAFI) building.
Elizabeth Dunlap was the first one in line.
” I’ve been here since 7:45 am. I was the first one at the door,” she said.
She was one of hundreds of people waiting in the hot, July sun to receive boxes of free food and drink from CAFI; nourishment that will sustain her and her family at least for a few weeks.
“It’s a good thing they’re doing this,” Dunlap said.
Mary Lou Williams agreed. ” I didn’t have any food in my house. No one could help me. Then my good friend told me they [CAFI] was handing out food….and I’m so glad.”
This is only the third time CAFI has held their Feeding the Community event, and this was their biggest crowd yet.
” It was busier than normal,” said Program Coordinator, Lisa Hardy. ” I know the word about the program is getting around and there’s definitely a need for it.”
As Hardy explained, a lot of their clients do receive food stamps, but it usually doesn’t cover the entire household, or there’s a gap of time between receiving funding to buy groceries.
That’s where CAFI hopes to step in and help out. The organization buys food and drink items from the Feeding the Valley food bank; volunteers then break it down into customized care packages. On Wednesday, customers walked away with three boxes apiece, each filled with items like chicken, cantaloupe, blueberries, breads, dessert, canned foods, juices, among other things.
Teresa Reed is one of the many volunteers who carefully packed some of the more than 300 food boxes. She is also diligently hunting for a new job, but wanted to make time to help others in the community.
” It’s exciting to see you can be a help to people when you don’t think you’re being a help,” she said. ” It’s also about getting to know people.”
And as many learned on Wednesday, CAFI’s Feed the Community program is about nourishment for the body - and for the soul.
“This is a blessing,” said Williams. “God is good.”
CAfI’s next Feed the Community event will be on Wednesday, August 27th. For more information, call CAFI at 706-882-6412.