Q&A with Linda Thomas

November 14, 2012 

Q&A with Linda Thomas

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Feed the City coordinator, New Hope International

QUESTION: What is Feed the City?

ANSWER: It’s an effort to impact the lives and restore hope to people in the community by providing food during the holidays. It’s all about the faces you see when you supply them with food they wouldn’t have had otherwise. The purpose is meeting needs and giving people special treatment without them having a finger pointed at them.

QUESTION: When did it begin?

ANSWER: In 1997. It was a response to requests from clients of the food bank at New Hope International church. People asked for holiday specific goods and we started supplying them. There’s no way we could have imagined how it would grow, but that’s the kind of God we serve. He does exceedingly above what we ask or think.

QUESTION: How many have been helped through the years?

ANSWER: Right about 50,000 people since 1997.

QUESTION: What’s in the Thanksgiving bag?

ANSWER: Stuffing, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, mac and cheese, cake mix and frosting and a turkey. We try to set a whole table.

QUESTION: When and where is the distribution?

ANSWER: It’s this Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. It’s at New Hope at 204 Sullivan Road, which is actually right off the Russell Parkway extension just east of Interstate-75.

QUESTION: What do people have to do? Do they have to qualify?

ANSWER: No qualifying. Simply line up at the church. They’ll need to fill out a short registration form but don’t even have to have an ID or anything. They’re given a coupon for food and the food is taken to their car for them--they don’t have to carry it out.

QUESTION: And again, it’s for …

ANSWER: It’s for anyone who feels they need it. You can’t always tell a book by its cover and you can’t always tell by looking at someone what they’re need is. We’ve had people come from out of state who got food for relatives they were visiting here.

QUESTION: What got New Hope involved in food ministry?

ANSWER: Even in the early days when New Hope was small, we had a burden to care for and feed people. We’d go to parking lots and areas where people needed food and cook hot dogs and give them away. Bishop Jeff Pool, our church’s founder, has always had a passion to help people. The food pantry and Feed the City grew out of that.

QUESTION: How many volunteers are involved?

ANSWER: On the Friday before distribution we prepare the bags and I guess there are about 350 from beginning to end. There are probably about 400 on Saturday when we give out the food.

QUESTION: Are all the volunteers from New Hope International?

ANSWER: Not at all, not any more. It’s grown from being just a ministry here at the church to being a community effort. There are Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other groups and businesses involved. We’re supported by canned food drives at 31 of the 38 public schools in Houston County and there are Feed the City boxes around town people can donate in. If there’s any food left over it goes to our food bank and still gets to people who need it. Feed the City now has its own board but distribution is still at the church because it’s a convenient place.

QUESTION: So the church’s efforts have outgrown the church?

ANSWER: It really is multiplied partnership with businesses, schools and others. It’s really a community thing.

QUESTION: Where are the boxes?

ANSWER: Various locations. People can go to our website at feedthecity.net and find locations as well as what specific things are needed. We don’t give out just anything. We have a list of items that make up the Thanksgiving meal.

QUESTION: Is there a big need for a particular item?

ANSWER: Turkey’s are the big need. Walmart gets us turkeys for $10 each and we take donations to buy them. That’s probably the biggest thing we could use is money for turkeys. Donations can be made at the website or here at the church.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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