Hunger growing as soup kitchen closes in county

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What do I want to eat?

It’s a common question most people ask themselves on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. They then make a decision to satisfy their hunger.

However, it’s not that simple for other people. It’s not a matter of what they “want” to eat but rather if they will eat at all.

Did you know that 43.1 million people (13.5 percent of population) live in poverty in America, including 14.5 million under the age of 18? Also, 42.2 million Americans live in food-insecure households, including more than 13 million children, according to the latest data available by the government.

We are not talking about some third-world country with a lack of resources. These are Americans!

Food insecurity is certainly a reality for some families right here in our own backyard. Chances are you know at least one person facing hunger problems, although you may not realize it.

That’s why resources like the Legion Center Ministry Soup Kitchen, Axis 1 Center Food Bank, home-delivered meal program for seniors and various other food distribution programs are important locally. Several churches also provide Snack Packs for children through partnerships with the schoolsand civic clubs that send home snacks on the weekends. Some schools are also exploring the idea of starting a food pantry.

According to the latest statistics provided by the Axis 1 food bank, 1,151 people received at total of 17,265 meals in April. That’s up from 800 people receiving 12,000 meals during the same month last year.

The spike comes at a time when there is now one less resource to help the hungry in Barnwell County after the soup kitchen, sponsored by Barnwell Presbyterian Church, closed its doors on Friday, April 28. That means the folks who relied on the soup kitchen for a nutritious lunch every Monday through Friday now may not eat. While many who go to the soup kitchen likely already go to the food bank, there could be an uptick in demand.

Can you imagine what it is like to truly be hungry and not know where your next meal will come from?

Unfortunately, that’s the reality this closure means for many who once relied upon its assistance.

Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope as concerned residents and faith leaders are looking at how to reopen a soup kitchen. This process will take time, but we know they are working as quickly as possible to review the feasibility of such an endeavor.

In the meantime, people are hungry.

We can all do our part to help out. Responding during a time of need is what Barnwell County’s residents do best. Just think back to natural disasters and last fall when the community responded with donations for the food bank after it was announced they ran out of food.

If you are able, please donate food or money to the Axis 1 Food Bank, Winfield Heights Food Bank in Williston or one of the other similar programs to help those who are hungry. You can also leave non-perishable food items in the two “blessing boxes” in the City of Barnwell. One is in front of the Barnwell First Baptist Church office on Allen Street while the other is in front of Gateway Church on Marlboro Avenue.

If you need assistance, please look to the available resources. Don’t be afraid or too proud to seek help. That’s why the resources are in place.

If the soup kitchen reopens, we encourage families, businesses, churches and others to support it. Donations are always welcomed as is volunteers to prepare food.