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Bethel AME offers food for the hungry

Bethel AME Church has been serving the community for generations, and five years ago they began serving the community in a new way — with a community food pantry.

Stanford Qualls

Stanford Qualls

It began as a way to help provide assistance for seniors, and the program quickly expanded. Their original goal of reaching 40 people was met within the first month, according to program director Stanford Qualls.

Twice a month, the Saturday following the first Sunday and the Saturday following the third Sunday, volunteers from Bethel AME Church hand out food to around 130 families and up to 400 individuals. Families get between 20 and 50 pounds of food depending on the size of the family. Some of the food comes from the Mississippi Food Network, but much of it is supplied by the community from individuals, organizations, events and fundraisers like the Holiday Food Pantry Drive.

“We had a pretty good year,” Qualls said. “We have plenty of volunteers that come in and help distribute the foods. So far, we haven’t had to turn anybod y down this year. That’s a good feeling.”

People looking to register for food must bring a photo ID and proof of residence, and they must be low income. Qualls said they get eligibility guidelines from the Department of Human Services and the Mississippi Food Network. Qualls is available for further inquiries or for information about volunteering or donations, and he can be reached at 601-748-1977

“If anybody is really in need of food and they don’t have it, just come on down,” Qualls said. “If they meet the guidelines, we will gladly serve them.”

The 13th annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive is a joint effort between Bank of Brookhaven and The Daily Leader.

The money raised will be divided between five area churches and organizations who work to feed the hungry in Lincoln County — St. Francis of Assisi/St. Vincent de Paul, Union Hall Baptist Church, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, the Greater Hope Foundation and Bethel AME. 

In past years, individuals have donated more than $9,000 annually to support the drive.

Donors have the option of donating in honor or memory of someone, anonymously, as a business or as an individual. The contributors’ names — unless requesting anonymity — and gift are publicized in the newspaper as they come in. A grand total of donations will be printed in each issue. The food pantry drive will end Dec. 16.

Donations will be accepted at both The Daily Leader and Bank of Brookhaven. Checks can be made out to Holiday Food Pantry. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602. They’ll also be accepted at the newspaper office front desk.

Contributions to the Holiday Food Pantry also can be mailed to the bank, given to bank cashiers or donate through the drive-through windows.

Contributors:

Nena Smith’s School of Dance — $200

Karen Sullivan — $100

Anonymous — $150

Anonymous — $200