Our food pantry is a really  vital part of our program.  Almost every guest that walks through our doors each day is in need of food. We have several food sources.  Today I’ll talk about one of the sources – the TEFAP food – The Emergency Food Assistance Program, provided by the  government, through the NC Foodbank.

Our local chapter is the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, located at 1314 Marstellar Street in Wilmington.  They receive their TEFAP food from their headquarters in Raleigh each month.  Our branch provides food to dozens of organizations.  They determine an allotment  for each organization, and arrange a monthly pickup date.  We typically receive our allotment on the first Tuesday of the month (provided the truck made it in from Raleigh!)  If there’s a delay or a scheduling conflict, we then receive it the second Tuesday.

On the morning of our scheduled date, we send our truck with two volunteers over to Marstellar Street. They often wait in line for their turn as forklifts move about loading pallets onto the waiting vehicles. Then comes the challenging part – getting the food back to the Center and unloaded:  a task that entails several volunteers to get the food down the stairs,  into the building, unpacked and shelved.  Often times our allotment is large enough to warrant a second trip back to the foodbank for the rest of the load.

The items we receive vary each month. This month, we received a wide assortment for our shelves:  canned pears, canned potatoes, cans of mixed vegetables, apple juice, boxed milk, pinto beans, red beans, and oat cereal. Additionally, we received several frozen items:  pollock fillets, smoked sliced turkey breast, catfish fillets and blueberries.

We distribute this food to our guests that are New Hanover County residents;  each eligible guest receives one of each item, until our supply runs out. We maintain records of the people that receive the food.  We are allowed to give the food to any NHC resident that is within the income guidelines.  If a guest receives foodstamps, they are automatically entitled to the TEFAP food.  If they don’t receive food stamps, we ask them to self-declare their income so we can determine their eligibility as outlined on the form we need to complete.  Each day, my admin team gathers stats on our activity; they prepare a monthly report of the food we distributed and transmit it to the food bank.  We are required to keep the  forms on hand for several years and we are audited annually by a TEFAP representative.

As I mentioned, we are only allowed to disburse this particular food to residents of New Hanover County.  We use other sources to provide food to those that come in from other counties. We also can refer them to a locale in their county where they should be able to get the TEFAP food.

SPECIAL NEED OF THE WEEK –   Diapers, particularly size 5 and 6 (our supply is very low!)