Food giveaway draws a crowd

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
GRANITE QUARRY — They started lining up at 8 a.m., Brenda Morgan said.
Senior citizens and families, all waiting for help to keep food on the table for the last days of the month.
Saturday, the second weekend food distribution to those in need took place at Grateful Heart Ministries, 706 Dunns Mountain Road.
Five hours later, when the distribution began, the line wrapped around the building.
Pastor Johnny Morgan of Grateful Heart ministries, a non-denominational Christian outreach, said this event, the second of four schedule between now and May 26, was a blessing to many Rowan County families.
“The weekend before last, we served 389 families,” he said.
Since 2009, Grateful Heart’s emergency food pantry has served thousands via their emergency food pantry, available on request.
Saturday, there was plenty to go around.
After showing their IDs and answering some basic questions about their households, those in need received boxes containing canned food, rice, orange juice, a 5-pound bag of potatoes and a loaf of bread, among other things.
Also available were toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies and laundry soap.
Brenda Morgan said these goods could be as important as food to some families.
“This is just having an impact, helping the families in crisis right now,” she said.
“If this food can help save them $25, that’s $25 toward their light bill.”
Grateful Heart Ministries is a partner with Second Harvest and the Feeding America program.
The Morgans said they pay Second Harvest a handling fee to have pallets of canned goods transported, which Johnny Morgan said comes out to about 16 cents per pound to cover handling and fuel.
Other items, like produce, are distributed free.
And of course, all of the food is given to needy residents free of charge.
Though Grateful Heart is a Christian ministry, and there are brochures and tracts on the tables, Jessica Morgan, volunteer and daughter-in-law of the pastor, said the distributions are open to all, no matter their beliefs.
“Regardless of their religious or political views, if they need help, they’ll get it,” she said.
Joseph Keller, of Landis, carried food back to the car where his family members waited.
He said he heard about the food distribution from his sister, who had read about it online.
“I feel it’s a great thing they’re doing, especially at the end of the month,” Keller said.
“I’m on disability, but anytime food stamps go up, my check goes down.”
And, Keller said, there’s fraud — “people getting food stamps that don’t need ’em,” he said.
Keller said that he and his wife have a 6-year-old daughter and a newborn.
“We’re at wits’ end because we feel like were failing our daughter,” he said.
“I don’t see where else we’d get help from.”
Aside from food aid, Brenda Morgan said, the supplies such as paper products are a great help to those whose budgets are tight due to unemployment or other circumstances.
She said one of the most-appreciated items they give out are gallons of distilled water, used by those with medical problems such as COPD who need pure water in their breathing machines.
Saturday, 74 volunteers from the parish and the community staffed the event.
Donnell Miller, of Lexington, said he met the Morgans at a revival and wanted to be a part of the outreach.
“Pastor Johnny and his wife … they’re doing a great job in the community here,” Miller said.
Future plans at Grateful Hearts include an expanded food pantry, educational classes and transitional housing for those without homes due to fires, job loss and other circumstances.
At the end of the day, Jessica Morgan said the food distribution served 313 households, totaling 939 individuals.
“(Pastor Morgan) has a heart for helping those who need help,” Larry Peeler, another volunteer, said.
“We feel that the Lord has provided, and we want to make sure it’s distributed to those in need.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.