SUMTER, S.C. — Over 200 people receive bags of food once a month in Sumter. The First Baptist Community Improvement Corporation provides a mobile food pantry brings fresh groceries right to people’s cars.
"Community serving community" is how Sumter resident Willie Strong describes the nonprofit.
Once a month, Strong gets food from the at First Baptist Missionary Church.
"I enjoy it! It shows me that people are concerned," Strong explained. "People really care and people really need this food 'cuz things are so high now."
Pantry Coordinator Lori McMichael agrees.
"There’s such a need. And when the pandemic hit, the need just grew and grew," she adds. "It has grown from just maybe doing 75 bags of food, to now we serve way over 200 people."
People like Victoria Upshur wait in their cars for hours, lining up outside the church on the second Friday of every month to get bags of food.
"It’s very, very helpful especially since the food price is so high and I’m a senior citizen, and you know we don’t get very much money anyway, so this helps out really," Upshur explained. "I look forward to it every month."
Over 40 volunteers pack the bags and load them into each car as other volunteers like Barbara Blanding make sure each person gets what they need.
"Anything we can do to serve and help people, it’s a great thing," Blanding said. "We feed so many people because people come through the line they say ‘Oh I really need this because I didn't get this this month’ or whatever. But they really appreciate what we are doing for them."
"We don’t care who you are," McMichael continued. "If you’re in need, come to First Baptist Missionary Church."
The food is collected through Harvest Hope Food Pantry.
Agency Relations Coordinator Sara Gibson says having different Harvest Hope locations throughout the state is helpful, but "really having community organizations like this that are local to residents that might have to walk or ride or catch a ride with someone else, it really puts them local and in place to help the people and with the immediate need in the areas," she said.
It's a need that continues to grow, McMichael explains
"As the need comes, were going to need a bigger facility. So right now we’re just praying that…we’re looking for a hub," she shared. "That possibly we could be the hub for other churches, other organizations to partner with us so we can actually eliminate the hunger in South Carolina."
McMichael says the organization is taking donations to help with that expanding need. For more information on how you can help, you can visit FBMCSumter.org/FBCIC-Food-Bank.