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Feeding the Valley Provides Food to Local Food Pantries

Tommy Murphy
Staff Writer

The local branch of Feeding the Valley Food Bank is getting set for the upcoming fall season, which just happens to be their busiest time of the year, due to many of their partner agencies feeding needy families with holiday dinners. Fortunately, it’s also the time of the year when folks are most generous with food donations.

The LaGrange branch of Feeding the Valley Food Pantry is located at 118 Gordon Commercial Drive and serves Troup County, Meriwether, Harris, and Talbot counties.

Feeding the Valley Food Bank is a reception and distribution center for donated food and grocery products. The food bank takes in items that are donated by grocery stores and farmers, as well as through food drives from local churches, schools, civic groups, and businesses. Feeding the Valley then partners with local non-profit organizations to distribute this food to smaller food pantries that give out the food to needy families.

The food bank also purchases some commodities such as meat using government allotments.

The non-profit food bank essentially serves a middle man and storage center between large companies who have food to donate and the smaller organizations who can more effectively distribute that food to those who need it. Local organizations and churches are then able to feed the hungry with food from Feeding the Valley.

In order to feed people though their food pantries and events, these organizations shop at the food bank to pick up items that they need. Many of the items in the food bank, such as fresh produce are provided to the organizations at no cost. Other grocery items are available at a greatly reduced rate. Rather than paying full retail for the food, the charitable organizations pay a bulk rate of $.18 per pound or less for the items. But Feeding the Valley isn’t making a profit on any of the items. The charge is just to subsidize transportation costs and keep the lights on.

Feeding the Valley also provides food directly to the hungry though their Mobile Pantry. The Mobile Pantry program delivers food and other necessities directly to those in need. This allows the food bank to directly distribute food to needy families who are unable to access emergency food pantries.

Feeding the Valley is a part of the Georgia Food Bank Association and a member of Feeding America. They also partner with United Way. Last year they distributing more than 8.7 million pounds of food throughout their 14 county service area, which includes: Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Dougherty, Harris, Lee, Marion, Meriwether, Muscogee, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Stewart, Talbot, Troup, Terrell, and Webster counties in Georgia and Russell County in Alabama.

Executive Director Frank Sheppard has headed up the nonprofit for the last five years after spending 24 years in the corporate world.

The work really is a labor of love for Sheppard and others at the food bank, including numerous volunteers. It’s far more rewarding that corporate work, noted Sheppard. “I don’t plan on going back,” he joked.

The food bank is always looking for volunteers and donations, particularly toiletries because those always seem to go fast and are less frequently donated.

The food bank accepts donations from the public too. They accept unexpired commercial foods, including some perishable items. They cannot accept homemade items though. And as always, monetary donations are accepted and appreciated.

For more information contact Feeding the Valley at 706-561-4755 or visit their website at www.feedingthevalley. org.

The author of this article can be reached via email at [email protected]