Food Pantry Serves Community One Meal at a Time

Local food pantries in downtown Harrisonburg help to provide for the needy.

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More than 40 percent of the world’s households now depend on receiving food from pantries each month. As the numbers of the needy have increased, so have the number of pantries.

Harrisonburg has 33 different food pantries, and most are run by local churches and are funded with donations. Churches such as Blessed Sacrament and Emmanuel Episcopal Church use local volunteers to provide monthly food supplies to low income families, single parents, and elderly or disabled community members.

To receive food, community members must make less than 150 percent of the poverty rate. Many people in the community register to become a part of the program, and receive meals and toiletries.

“It’s a choice between getting a prescription filled or having something to eat,” Barb Warns explains the importance of helping disabled and elderly community members.

When people say thank you and this helps a lot, and people do.”

— Barb Warns on what the most rewarding part of her job is

One church that provides a food pantry is The Emmanuel Episcopal Church at 660 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. This church is based on fulfilling their duty as a Christian. They provide meals for families in need every day and special meals for holidays. Lynn Martin works for the pantry along with many other members of the church. Martin said it, “makes her aware of her personal blessings” and that she has made it a top priority in her life.

The Blessed Sacrament Church Food Pantry is the second largest food pantry in the valley. Barbara Warns, the head coordinator of this pantry, works for no pay along with 70 other volunteers. Five years ago she moved here from Baltimore and became an ordinary volunteer at the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry. Warns noticed Harrisonburg’s poverty rate was 14.2 percent – the highest in Virginia – and decided she wanted to become more involved in the food pantry.

After many years of volunteering, she still has a passion for helping the community. When she was approached with the question of dishonesty about needs within the community, Warns responded with, “If you come here and sit in the waiting room, you need food.”

She also said that within the five years she has worked in the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry, there had been only two incidents involving dishonesty.

Warns continues to serve her community and states that it is one of her main priorities. Warns plans to continue working at the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry and to serve her community.