ROCKINGHAM — Those still struggling to recover from Hurricane Florence got a boost Thursday from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
The food bank, in partnership with the Rockingham Housing Authority, stacked 600 boxes of nonperishable food along with bags of frozen meat at Falling Creek Park on Hood Street, giving out the items first come, first served. Each car or family walking in on foot received one box of food and a bag of frozen meats.
Jennifer Caslin, marketing and project director for the food bank, said it had identified Rockingham as an area in need based on the number of people who applied for federal assistance. Richmond County Department of Social Services Director Robby Hall said Tuesday that 3,906 people had applied for D-SNAP, or disaster food stamps awarded to those not already receiving food stamps, and 2,677 had been approved.
Many who came out Thursday said the loss of power as the result of the hurricane had devastated their food supplies.
Kendrick Jenkins of Rockingham said he and his family drove by the long line of people before stopping to pick up a box.
The family lost power for several days during the storm and had applied for D-SNAP, Jenkins said. The large box of food and frozen meat “are going to help a lot,” he said.
Janice Daughtry, 71, of Hamlet said the storm damaged her apartment. Daughtry is a senior and on a fixed income, and though she said she was struggling only a ”little bit,” the extra food was necessary.
“I think for a lot of people, it’s about getting back to a sense of normalcy,” said Jessica Ledbetter, outreach coordinator for the food bank.
The boxes of food contained energy bars, cereal, canned fruit, pasta and other easy-to-prepare foods, but the frozen meats came in zebra-striped handbags from the now-defunct The Pink Alli boutique in Cary. Each bag bore the store’s slogan “What every diva wants,” written on the side.
Courtney McGuirt, a volunteer from Moore County, jokingly finished the thought, toting a bag fashionably in between food donations:
“What every diva wants,” she said — “some frozen meat!”
The volunteers at the event included others from Moore County, as well as members of the Rockingham Housing Authority, representatives from Perdue and a Rockingham firefighter.
Michael McKay, volunteer services coordinator with the Sandhills branch of the food bank, said it was working with local agencies across the state to address the need caused by displacement from the storm. A main part of that, McKay said, is working with local agencies, churches and organizations to inform communities about where emergency food is available.
He described the food bank’s efforts Thursday as a “one-stop shop” for those in need.
Four representatives of Perdue were on hand Thursday. The company contributes to Feeding America, which provides food that the food bank donates.
Leslie King, complex human resources manager for the company, said Perdue wanted to build on the relief efforts it performed following Hurricane Matthew.
“We know how devastating that was, so we wanted to continue to help,” King said.
Firefighter Danny Guity was volunteering under “chief’s orders” but said he enjoyed getting out of the station.
“A lot of people don’t know that this is part of the job (of a firefighter),” Guity said. “We’re helping those in need. It’s always good to go out and put your hands in.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]