Valdosta’s Second Harvest food distribution feeds thousands ahead of Christmas
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Hundreds of people lined up on Wednesday as Second Harvest of South Georgia held another food distribution in Valdosta. They have 6 truckloads ready to feed over 1,000 people here in South Georgia.
Second Harvest of South Georgia says each year, they distribute close to 20,000,000 pounds of food. They say they’re hoping for the same next year also.
“Everyone knows who’s been to the grocery store lately, how much things cost. On average we’re seeing close to 20-plus percent inflation on food. And families right now are making some really big decisions. So this 200 plus pounds of food that all these families are getting today is a huge difference maker for us in the month of December,” CEO of Second Harvest South Georgia, Frank Richards said.
This is the last food distribution of the year for Second Harvest. They say next year, things will be tight for them like everyone else. But they plan to continue to serve their community like they always have.
“During the (COVID-19) pandemic, we saw a huge decline in the number of local food pantries and community organizations that make up the safety net to feed families. But these are what we call PODS, what’s happening today, is the point of distribution. These mass PODS have been so critical the last two years to get food into the hands of families,” Richards said.
When employees arrived Thursday morning, there were already several cars parked waiting for the distribution to start at 4 a.m.
“I think it’s extremely important for us to be able to help out our community. And make sure nobody goes hungry especially during the holiday season,” Whitney Sharpe, a volunteer from the distribution, said.
Second Harvest had 30 employees of their own on site, with an additional 50 volunteers.
“It’s important because it’s hard times right now. Some people really can’t afford it with the inflation and prices going up,” Winston Sharpe, a volunteer from the distribution, said.
Second Harvest gave out a great variety of food to help families throughout the season. Canned goods, fruits, vegetables, fish and more. Even a child’s nutrition box with things like mac and cheese and ravioli.
“We’re just so thankful. Especially this time of year, that our community supports us the way that they do. They have really stepped up these last two years. They come together in the South Georgia region to really make sure that Second Harvest has the products we need every day to do these types of events,” Richards said.
Valdosta High School’s Assistant Wrestling Coach Boyce Cornwell says Second Harvest helps provide food for them throughout the school year. So, it’s only right for them to give back to them when they need a hand.
“It’s important for Second Harvest to help this community because it’s for the most part a low-income community. So, it’s giving back to people who may not necessarily have the means to get what they need over the holidays,” Cornwell said.
Some students say helping the community, hearing the people’s responses and wishing them a Merry Christmas made it a special day for them.
“I like to see the smiles on their faces after you give stuff to them. And also, just bonding with your community. It’s just really nice to see the community grow together,” Caleb Lowe, a student volunteer from VHS Wrestling, said.
Second Harvest of South Georgia prepared meals for 1600 families. They say they distributed to about 600-700 cars.
“You know just being able to come out here and provide for the community, give our free food, it helps a lot of people out. As you can see, there was a lot of people out this morning,” Karl Rosip, a student volunteer from VHS Wrestling, said.
Second Harvest of South Georgia says between Tifton, Thomasville and Valdosta, they have held close to 20 food distributions this year.
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