Food programs that share the bounty for holidays and beyond
Food insecurity is a problem that affects thousands of Georgetown County residents.
The issue becomes even more acute around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is something that people live with every day.
Several nonprofits, and even a few individuals, are tackling the problem head-on.
Baskervill Food Pantry | A season for donations
Nearly 200 local families have a turkey and a lot of side dishes for this year’s Thanksgiving feast after a food giveaway Saturday at Baskervill Food Pantry.
The pantry is a year-round operation that provides supplemental food and nutrition education to Georgetown County residents in need. It is a member of the Lowcountry Food Bank, which sells food at a substantial discount.
Although located on the campus of Holy Cross-Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, the pantry is supported by many area churches, according to Keith Hoile, pantry co-director.
“All the main churches on the Waccamaw Neck support the pantry in one or more ways like cash donations or food drives that they run within their church, or volunteers,” Hoile said. “It’s very ecumenical. The churches are really great support for us.”
Clients are allowed to come and get food once per month. Visits are tracked in the pantry’s database.
The pantry recently switched from passing out pre-packed bags to allowing clients to choose the food they want.
“It makes it more like a grocery store,” Hoile said.
Large donations come in every year before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays from area schools. Waccamaw High School recently collected 1,035 items.
The pantry also grows vegetables in a garden in its backyard and hosts Fresh Express Produce Distributions four times a year when approximately 5,000 pounds of seasonal items are passed out.
For more information on receiving food, or to volunteer, call 843-237-3459. Send donations to 113 Baskervill Dr., Pawleys Island, SC 29585.
Backpack buddies | Filling the gap
Volunteers at two local churches are making sure students don’t go hungry on weekends.
Both St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and Belin Memorial United Methodist Church host Backpack Buddies programs.
St. Peter’s supplies food to about 550 kids every week at Waccamaw Intermediate School and Waccamaw, Plantersville and Sampit elementary schools.
This is the 11th year of the program that started by helping 25 students.
“We never expected it to get this big,” said Rita Schaap, who was on the church committee that came up with the idea.
Once a month about 30 volunteers package the food in lunch bags that fit inside a backpack. The bags, which are distributed every Friday during the school year, have a label with the child’s name and whether they have any allergies.
Belin’s program is nine years old and supplies food to nearly 200 students at Waccamaw and St. James middle schools and St. James Intermediate School, along with a food bank at St. James High School.
Jeff Kuntz, co-chairman of the program, said menus are available to Belin parishioners, who fill reusable green shopping bags with donations.
The food is stored, sorted and bagged inside the church’s old parsonage and then delivered to the schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We’re really proud of our program,” Kuntz said.
Food donations can be dropped off at either church. Monetary donations can be sent to St. Peter’s at 65 Crooked Oak Dr., Pawleys Island, SC 29585; or Belin at 4182 Highway 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.
Carvers Bay High | Feed the bears
If you are anywhere other than the Carvers Bay area of Georgetown County you never want to feed the bears.
But that’s exactly what certified athletic trainer Jada Vanderlip has been doing since the start of the school year.
Vanderlip, a Hagley resident, noticed that the school’s student-athletes, nicknamed the Bears, were getting dehydrated and sick during practices. She realized it was because they weren’t getting enough food at home.
So Vanderlip started making and distributing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day in her training room. It’s an idea she had heard about other trainers doing.
She calls the experience “a blessing.”
“It’s been really neat to see the need and then to have a way to meet a need,” Vanderlip said. “There are so many needs in this world, and you feel helpless to do anything about it.”
More than 50 students have been stopping by every day after school for a sandwich, a snack and a bottle of water.
The cost to the student is simple: just say please and thank you.
Vanderlip said the reaction from the students has been fantastic.
“It took them awhile to realize that it was free,” Vanderlip said. “The kids absolutely love it and the coaches and the staff here at the school has been widely supportive. They’ve been super appreciative and grateful for it as well.”
Vanderlip personally accepts donations of food. All monetary donations are handled and distributed to her by the school’s booster club.
Send donations in care of the club to 13002 Choppee Rd., Hemingway, SC 29554.
Christmas dinner | A storm legacy
For the 31st year, churches in Murrells Inlet and Andrews will be hosting free Christmas dinners.
Trinity Methodist Church in Andrews will serve from noon to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and Belin Memorial in Murrells Inlet will serve from noon to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.
The meals are part of the Community Christmas Dinner, which started in 1989 in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. Last year, more than 7,500 meals were served or delivered in Murrells Inlet, Andrews, Myrtle Beach and Loris.
The food that will be prepared for the four locations includes 6,800 pounds of turkey, 3,300 pounds of ham, 2,400 pounds of sweet potato casserole, 1,920 pounds of mashed potatoes, 1,860 pounds of green beans and 874 pounds of cranberry sauce.
Donations can be sent to St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 3301 Highway 17 Bypass, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577.
Pawleys Masons | Holiday delivery
For more than 30 years, people enrolled in the county’s Meals on Wheels program have enjoyed holiday meals on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day thanks to the efforts of the Cusick family and the Pawleys Island Masonic Lodge.
At first it was Charlie and Flo Cusick, who owned the IGA in Litchfield and were Meals on Wheels volunteers. When the couple found out the program didn’t deliver on holidays, they got the Masons to start cooking and delivering homemade meals in the mid-1980s.
Charlie helped found the Masonic Lodge in 1966, and his sons, Phillip and John, joined when they were old enough. Phillip took over the coordinating of the holiday meals after Charlie died in 2000, and gets help from John almost every year.
The meals include turkey, ham, green beans, sweet potatoes, rice and gravy, a roll, homemade dessert and a quart of milk. They are prepared at the lodge and delivered by Masons and other volunteers. Approximately 30 people get the meals every year.
“I’ve been blessed with some great help,” Phillip said. “There’s been times when I’ve had more people wanting to deliver than I’ve had meals to deliver.”
Money for the meals comes from donations, fundraisers and the lodge members themselves, and meals have enough food to feed a person for two to three days.
“It goes a long way,” Phillip said.
It’s not just the “poorest of the poor” that get the meals, Phillip said. Deliveries also go to places such as Heritage and Pawleys Plantation.
To volunteer call 843-457-9621. Send donations to 75 Haunted Trail, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.