Food bank helps Dalton churches, agencies feed the hungry
By Charles Oliver
A few weeks ago, the First Baptist Church of Dalton fed some 300 of the city’s homeless and working poor a KFC dinner with all the fixings. And it cost the church only $50.
“We got about 275 pounds of chicken and mashed potatoes and all the stuff they serve at KFC, along with green beans from our ‘Soul Food’ garden, and it only cost us about $50,” said the Rev. Courtney Allen, the church’s minister of community ministry and missions.
Allen credits the Northwest Georgia Branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
“They have relationships with restaurants like KFC. They get the food and then we pick it up from them,” she said.
The church throws its “Soul Food” dinners on the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of each month. Getting a full restaurant meal is a bit unusual, but Allen said the prepackaged and canned foods the church gets at a discount from the food bank help it stretch its dollars further and feed more people.
“It saves us, on average, $200 or more on each of the dinners,” she said.
The Northwest Georgia Branch celebrated its first anniversary with a ribbon cutting Thursday morning at 1111 S. Hamilton St. in Dalton.
“We serve 20 counties, nine in northwest Georgia,” said Maeghan Jones, executive director of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. “Having a food bank here in Dalton really helps us serve our Georgia agencies more effectively. Now, they don’t have to drive as far to get the assistance they need to help hungry families in their communities.”
The food bank accepts donations of nonperishable canned and packaged foods. It also accepts donations of fresh meats and produce but it asks that people call in advance to make sure the food bank has room to store it.
And the food bank also accepts donations of money.
“One dollar means five meals for us,” Jones said.
In addition, the food bank uses volunteers from the community to help with much of its work, such as creating special food boxes.
“These boxes weigh 30 pounds, and our member agencies can pick them up and distribute them to families in need in their communities. One box can feed a family of four for 10 days,” Jones said.
Since opening last year, the Dalton branch has distributed more than 3 million pounds of food, and its member churches and agencies have more than doubled to 63 from 30.
“Those are churches and other organizations that have food pantries or feeding programs or have some sort of food missions,” said Holly Ashley, development director for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.