By Madeleine Eldridge and Zandra Alford
As the 2015 mini-grant funding cycle comes to an end, we would like to take this time to thank our partnering organizations for increasing access to healthy and affordable foods and safe places to be active in Wake, Lee, and Harnett Counties. Over the past few months, we have conducted end of year site visits and will be posting brief summaries of the work being done by each grant site. Today’s spotlight is on the Abundant Living Ministries food pantry; the Salvation Army food pantry; and the San Lee Middle School SPRINT Club, supported by Communities in Schools of Lee County.
Abundant Living Ministries – Abundant Exchange Services Food Pantry – Sanford
Voices into Action staff enjoyed our visit with Pastor Dr. Sharon Williams at Abundant Living Ministries, where we were able to see the beginning stages of the Abundant Exchange Services food pantry. Though the pantry is just starting up, many of the details are already planned out. Pastor Williams has purchased three sets of shelves with Voices into Action mini-grant funds, and she plans to purchase another. She is in contact with Salvation Army of Lee County and Southern Pines Food Bank and plans to partner with them moving forward. Pastor Williams has a list of volunteers ready, and is going to create a volunteer calendar. She is still determining the best hours for pantry operation. Once all this is sorted out, she welcomes new volunteers. If you’re in the Lee County area, consider contacting Abundant Living Ministries. If you can’t volunteer, consider making a donation!
There is even more to this project. Pastor Williams used mini-grant funds to purchase a blood pressure machine which is available to church members as part of an effort to raise awareness of hypertension. She also is working with Debbie Stephenson of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) through Lee County Cooperative Extension to host a series of nutrition classes. The class covers topics like how to read a nutrition label, how to avoid excessive sodium, and how to get your recommended serving of whole grains. We were able to attend a class, and had a taste of a whole grain lasagna food demonstration. It was delicious!
For more information about Abundant Living Ministries and their food pantry project, please contact Pastor Dr. Sharon Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website: http://www.abundantlivingministries.net/.
The Salvation Army of Lee County Food Pantry – Sanford
The Salvation Army Food Pantry is located at 507 N Steele Street in Sanford. When we came in for our visit with Chris Kelley, Service Center Director for The Salvation Army of Lee County, he was working on shelving a large shipment of bread. With the Voices into Action mini-grant, Chris was able to purchase shopping carts, a large dolly (which he nicknamed “the U-boat”), two enormous rolling bins, new signage, and six new sets of metal shelves to replace less sturdy plastic ones. It was great to get to see Chris using the new dolly to carry in several boxes of food from one of their regular donors, the Bread Basket Soup Kitchen. Chris says that these supplies have helped increase their location’s capacity for food storage! This location serves about twenty to thirty people in a day, but has been known to see up to fifty in a day. On Wednesdays, they offer clothing vouchers to their clients, so that’s usually their busiest day.
The Salvation Army Food Pantry of Lee County has many community partners. They have collaborated with Lowe’s Foods, Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, Static Control, Christian United Outreach Center, and the Lee County Fair to name a few. They have also worked together with St. Luke’s Church to create raised bed community and home gardens. The Salvation Army was able to get thirty of their clients involved with that project. Chris is also working with Debbie Stephenson from the Lee County Cooperative Extension to offer nutrition education classes to pantry clients through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
Along with providing food assistance, the Salvation Army works to connect clients to job training opportunities, GED, and community college resources. They depend heavily on donations, so consider the Salvation Army for your donation needs. For more information, contact Chris Kelley at Chris.Kelley@uss.salvationarmy.org or (919) 718-1717.
Communities in Schools of Lee County – San Lee Middle School SPRINT Club – Sanford
Communities in Schools of Lee County and San Lee Middle School in Sanford, NC are working hard to support students in developing healthy lifestyles and a strong sense of self. Since 2013, their partnership has supported the SPRINT Club, a running club for girls in grades 6-8 that focuses on improving self-esteem, embracing healthy body image, and encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. The club is led by the San Lee Middle School Counseling Department and staff from Communities in Schools of Lee County and consists of approximately 30 girls who meet twice a week after school. Together the group works towards the goal of preparing for a 5k run by nurturing their physical and emotional health through group activities, workshops, and exercise. The group’s preparation culminates with the girls running a 5k at the end of the school year. In May 2015, the club utilized the funds they received from their Voices into Action mini-grant to participate in the Fayetteville 5k Color Run, a wonderful experience that was the result of months of hard work, dedication, and fun!
During the 2014-2015 school year, the SPRINT Club was able to enhance their curriculum to include nutrition education, food safety, and cooking demonstrations and tastings thanks to a partnership with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Voices into Action. Using hands on activities students were able to learn about MyPlate, healthy choices, food labels, and kitchen safety. They were also able to sample delicious, easy-to-make recipes like fruit smoothies, sweet potato fries, and egg salad – all a big hit with the students!
Want to learn more about the Sprint Club and Communities in Schools of Lee County? Visit http://www.lee.k12.nc.us//site/Default.aspx?PageID=12199 and http://leecountync.communitiesinschools.org/?page_id=808