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Feeding Greene is in need of the community’s support

Feeding Greene is in need of the community’s support

Approximately 1,800 people benefit from food services each month in Greene County. In June 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding Greene Inc. in Stanardsville moved to its new location at 81 Main St. Now it needs your help—and $150,000—to complete renovations of the new building.

“Thirty people was a big day for us a year ago; we served a record high of 86 families on Tuesday,” said Director Rhonda Oliver. “Families’ lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic and more people than ever are seeking food assistance for the first time.”

From March 2019 to March 2020, the food bank served 569 households and 1,794 individuals; from 2020 to 2021, that increased to 888 households (56% increase) and 2,879 individuals (61%). The pantry saw 3,539 visits in 2019-2020 and 6,115 visits in 2020-2021—a 73% increase. Also during the pandemic, the pantry went from 415 home deliveries to 926—a 123% increase due to so many people working or attending school from home. In 2019, the pantry enrolled 261 new families in services; 2020 saw 453 new households (a 74% increase). In 2019, 470,184 pounds of food was distributed; 2020 saw 794,543 pounds of food given out—a 69% increase year over year.

“Our home deliveries—serving the elderly and disabled—have more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic and continue to be in high demand,” Oliver said. “We are hopeful that lightened COVID recommendations will allow families to safely come into our pantry and shop for their own food, but we will continue to offer drive-thru service for those that prefer that method.”

The pantry was able to expand into the adjacent property when the neighboring business moved out in November, and is now hard at work building a walk-in cooler and freezer, stock room and a proper loading dock to expand its food storage capabilities. They will also be taking over the backpack program to address the needs of families with children in need of food support this year.

“I’ve noticed in this pandemic, even though sometimes it seems to take forever to get some things done, other things have accelerated unbelievably fast,” Oliver said last week. “We never imagined we would have all this space.”

Although the pandemic may be beginning to subside and many families are back at work, Oliver says the volunteers continue to see new families every week.

“We got a lot of referrals from the department of social services, Region Ten and even the hospital … the need was really there,” she said. “Two weeks ago, I signed up an 80-year-old couple … they’ve been retired for a while and they said things are just too expensive … and it’s just getting harder to make it. They came the next day, after I in-putted their information. For me, that’s the biggest thing we do—alleviate people’s household budget so they can pay the other things that come up in their lives.”

Once the construction is completed—Oliver hopes by midsummer—the pantry will reopen to full client choice, where visitors can self-select their items just like at a grocery store. According to Oliver, pantry items will be marked with a “green light” system to indicate healthy choices, with signage throughout about how to select items.

“Green is you can have as many as you want,” she said. “It’s just so they’re aware; and they say that pantries that do that, that people start making healthier choices because it’s right there in front of them.”

Oliver wants to thank the many volunteers who came out to help during the move and transition to the new location during the pandemic.

“We’ve had so many volunteers … we probably had about 300 different volunteers last year, and most of them I never saw their face (because of the masks),” she said.

In addition to the new volunteers, Oliver looks forward to the return of Greene County Beta Club students looking to earn community service hours by restocking the pantry after school, as well as the special education students who used to spend a few hours per week cleaning and organizing the stock room. Other collaborators include the county extension office, which recently donated plants to hand out to families; and the Greene Care Clinic, which hopes to offer free health screenings at the food bank in the future; and several farmers market vendors, who sometimes donate unsold produce after the Saturday market. Lowe’s also recently donated supplies to redo decking on the pallet racks in the stock room.

The food pantry serves clients in a walk-up or drive-thru method from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and can arrange delivery as needed for those with transportation concerns. Call (434) 985-3663 or email if you need assistance but have not been before or if you know of a friend or neighbor who may be in need.

“We might even expand our hours once we get opened back up, because one thing we have found when families first started going back to work is that they still had the need for food,” Oliver said.

To donate to the capital campaign, visit and click the “Donate Now” button or send a check to P.O. Box 13, Stanardsville, with “capital campaign” in the memo field. To volunteer, or for more information, call (434) 985-3663 or visit the website.

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