Cumberland County food bank continues to feed even as it grapples with supply chain issues

STEDMAN, N.C. (WTVD) -- Many people are feeling the pinch right now because of supply chain problems. That includes people who need help feeding their families.

But the problem runs deeper. The shortages are now affecting local food banks.

One Cumberland County church is feeling it in a number of ways as it tries to help people struggling in the community.

Minister Debbie Matthis and her congregation at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, 7536 Clinton Road in Stedman, have been on the frontlines battling food insecurities during the pandemic.

"Where we were only open once a week before, now we are open four days a week and some families who come every single week and now we have about 50 to 60 families come every month now," Matthis said.

The essentials, such as rice, beans, and canned goods, are staples for many who may be one paycheck away from hunger.

Many of the donations come from grocery stores and larger food banks that the church partners with, but with supply chains broken, these once-full shelves are dwindling.

"If you look around, the only canned goods we have are that box of tuna over there and the hams that we have for a Thanksgiving meal package," Matthis said.

With more mouths to feed, that means they need more ways to store the food, but supply chain shortages are affecting nearly everything, even access to refrigerators.

"Eggs, or butter or if we get extra produce in like greens, which are good for people, if we can't find a place to refrigerate it or keep it safe, we have to destroy it," said church member Mike O'Donnell.

In a community like many, still on the road to recovery, every last donation counts.

"I have seen it become a lifeline for those living through the shutdown, who went without work and went without income," said church member Lisa O'Donnell.

No matter how much they have or how big the need, Matthis said no one who comes to them will ever be turned away.

"Everybody deserves to eat, and everybody deserves to have good healthy food," Matthis said. "And what does that say about us as people if they can't"

Right now, the Cokesbury United Methodist Church food pantry is focused on non-perishable foods such as canned vegetables and canned meat as well as partnering with other churches in the area to help people in need.
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