By Lacy Hilliard
The need for programs that feed the hungry is growing both locally and nationally. Though the national unemployment rate has dropped and the economy is improving; many Johnson County residents arent yet feeling the relief It takes awhile to trickle down to Johnson County, said Flo Bellamy of the Johnson County/Mountain City Community Center even people that are working are still struggling, she said.
Bellamy is one of the many local philanthropists that dedicate time to fulfilling one of the most basic human needs that far too often goes unfulfilled. Through Bellamys after school program at the community center, children can receive a hot meal and a snack five days per week. The meals are elaborate and nutritious and nothing goes to waste, Leftovers are boxed up and sent home with the kids or to the Senior Center I dont believe in wasting food, said Bellamy. Bellamys frugality is a necessity. Though there are a few food pantries throughout the county, each plight is the same many mouths to feed and limited resources to complete this essential task.
St. Anthonys of Padua in Mountain City operates one of the largest food pantries within the county. Leni Smith, a St. Anthonys volunteer, stated that she continues to see a significant increase in the need for such services, Three years ago we were feeding about 147 families per month. Now were feeding 450. The cost to run St. Anthonys alone is about $21,000 per year. Smith is also responsible for writing grants for Saint Anthonys, Were fortunate to get grants, said Smith, but its a hard way to live because you never know exactly whats coming. Smith went on to say, The need is growing but we assume that if were doing what were supposed to be doing, the Lord will provide.
First Christian Church in Mountain City also operates a food panty. Pastor Dwayne Dickson echoed the statements of Leni Smith stating, The last couple of years we have seen an increase. Weve gone up to about 200 food boxes per month. Thats about a 25% increase. First Christian Church distributes 2-3,000 pounds of food per month throughout the county.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.
By Lacy Hilliard