ORANGE BEACH — The Island Mobile Food Pantry has been hosting a Thanksgiving food distribution at The Island Church for nine years and it has grown in participation each year.
Last Saturday, the church saw its largest turnout yet after 222 families signed up to receive between 50 to 75 pounds of food, including ingredients to help make a Thanksgiving dinner.
The volunteer support has continued to strengthen year after year as well, and more than 100 volunteers filled the Island Youth’s main lobby Saturday morning and soon fell into a well-oiled machine.
After a portable conveyer belt was installed, boxes started at the back and worked their way to the front being packed to the brim with fruits, vegetables, packaged desserts and other essentials. At the end, the turkeys were added as the cherry on top before being packed into cars.
Island Church Lead Pastor Fred Franks said the church has been thankful to provide an opportunity to support its community.
“I believe it’s inside people’s heart to want to give and this is a blessing to our community, a blessing to surrounding communities and it’s also a blessing to the church because people have an avenue to be able to give and to be a part,” Franks said Saturday. “Especially at the Thanksgiving season, we want to bless people and help people. We don't always know how, but this is a great way to be able to help people.”
Lisa Crouse, Island Mobile Food Pantry Director, was part of the welcoming crew after overseeing the operations for the ninth straight year. Although the participation has increased, the procedures have kept pace.
“This is our biggest sign-up that we've ever had,” Franks said. “We've been doing this nine years now so it grows in that regard, but I think it is also larger just by virtue of the economy and food prices. There's more need today and a lot of people don't realize the need that there is in South Baldwin County.”
On top of the shipment from Feeding The Gulf Coast, contributions from local grocery stores like Walmart, Target, Publix, Aldi and others helped the Island Mobile Food Pantry address some of that need in Saturday’s supplemental distribution to go along with the weekly distributions around the county.
“We don’t quite weigh it out, but all of the boxes together, each family will get a minimum of 50 pounds of food and usually it’s in between 50 to 75 pounds of food that each family will receive,” Franks said.