After a summer of serving more than 1,000 people, the MESA Food Pantry shelves are bare.
To fill them, Food Lion of Madison is sponsoring a food drive for the local non-profit Saturday, Sept. 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot in front of the store.
Eleanor Mower, executive director of MESA, is hopeful that the food drive will restock the shelves and bring community awareness to the many programs the non-profit offers.
“First and foremost, we need to restock our food pantry,” said Mower. “I hope that a food drive in a prominent location can also bring more community awareness. I’m always surprised by the number of people who have no idea about all the services MESA provides. While most are aware of the food pantry, many are unaware of Barbara’s House which provides temporary housing for families in transition or our thrift store.”
The MESA Food Pantry provides food to 375 families in Madison County. Despite the steady stream of donations to the MESA food pantry, there is always a need for donations of canned fruit and vegetables, soup, cereal and personal care items.
Robin Corum, food pantry coordinator, said the agency has been seeing an increase in the need for services and has added 11 families to the program in just the past two weeks.
“Right now, we are serving well over 350 families per month; our last count had 375 families using our pantry and we’ve added more within the past couple weeks,” said Corum. “Most come two or three times each month. We have churches and members of the community that make regular donations but now we need cereal, side dishes, spaghetti sauce and box dinners. Fruit cups with no added sugar are also popular with some of our senior clients. We are also making lunches for kids on the weekends, so any bag lunch items are also needed.”
Mower said that the food pantry tries to offer healthy options and strives to keep low sugar and low sodium non-perishables in stock. They also receive donations of fresh fruit and produce from local farmers and Food Lion, Trader Joes and Sheetz.
The food pantry also provides personal hygiene products. Deodorant, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products and diapers are all products that are not available for purchase with food stamps.
The food pantry is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Residents of Madison County who are not already MESA clients can come to the food pantry during these hours to register for assistance and check eligibility. Donations are accepted anytime MESA is open.
MESA has provided emergency assistance to Madison County residents in-need since 1982. The non-profit organization provides assistance in one or all of three areas-financial, food and clothing or housing. Financial assistance is provided on a case-by-case basis and often consists of help with utility bills and/or rent. Food is provided through the food pantry and clothing is provided through the MESA Thrift Store. The organization also runs Barbara’s House, a temporary housing situation for up to five families.
All of MESA’s programs are supported by private donations and grant money and are staffed by volunteers.
For more information, to contribute or volunteer contact MESA at (540) 948-4427 or go to www.mesamadisonva.org.