PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Third Baptist Church just outside downtown Portsmouth offers a drive-through food pantry for the community every fourth Monday.
Pastor Joseph Fleming launched the program nearly three years ago, just as the nation was at war with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Third Baptist Church Portsmouth family loves our community, and we believe in meeting their needs in order to represent hope,” Fleming said.
Two mature women who did not want to be identified are grateful that help is near as prices for some food items continue to soar.
“It is appreciated,” said the woman behind the wheel. “It helps us save on our grocery bill and we are both retired.”
The food – potatoes, carrots, apples and rice – are provided by the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. Third Baptist offers the person power needed to feed the needy.
“God has blessed us to partner with Southeastern Regional Food Bank,” Fleming said. “Our church family volunteers have made the mobile food pantry a monthly mission at 9:30 a.m. every fourth Monday at the Joe B. Fleming Multipurpose Building which is located at 1313 London Blvd.”
Church member Thomas Lamb is the onsite supervisor of the monthly operation.
“As you can see, this is an excellent setup where the people come in out of the weather and open their trunks,” Lamb said, “where we can put the food in and everybody seems to be so grateful and thankful for the food.”
In Virginia, the 15% pandemic boost to EBT cards will come to an end next Monday, and currently, the drive-through pantry has no protein to offer.
According to Forbes, the additional temporary benefits were due to stop once the government declared an end to the public health emergency. Although the emergency has been extended through April, the allotments will end by March across the country.
David Brandt, senior director of communications for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, said they “get what we can get, (but) we are challenged by the supply chain.”
Some who visit the church pantry by car are picking up food not just for their family, but for their entire village.
“It’s a blessing,” said Matthew Johnson, who prepares and delivers meals to the homeless who live near his neighborhood just outside downtown Portsmouth. “So I have 24 grandkids and I try to help the neighborhood too.”
The Foodbank, which has 18 mobile food sites and more than 125 satellite locations across the region, is calling on residents to invest in the people of Hampton Roads.
“We don’t want people to just survive, but thrive,” Brandt said, “and fresh produce helps young children perform better in school it helps adults perform better at work.
“We’re going to have to go out and purchase the fresh protein and fresh produce and that comes from donations. People can go to foodbankonline.org and do whatever they can. It will help us help our neighbors.”