Midstate volunteers prepare to feed the city

jmink@macon.comNovember 15, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Jennifer Walker knows how difficult this time of year can be. She has dealt with families who struggle to feed their children during school breaks, and providing holiday feasts is out of the question.

That’s why Walker says it is important for people to volunteer their time and resources to Feed the City, a communitywide project that gives holiday food to low-income families. The annual event is 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at New Hope International Church in Fort Valley. Volunteers will hand out food, and organizers are expecting to feed 2,000 families this year, said Walker, board chairwoman of Feed the City.

“We want to help families during the holiday season when they are in need of food,” she said. “The holiday season is when kids are at home from school, and there tends to be a higher food bill.”

Feed the City began in 1997 when New Hope’s food bank was nearly empty, and church members requested food donations for the holidays. That first year, the project fed 10 families. Since then, the event has fed more than 50,000 people in the area. Last year, volunteers handed out 1,900 turkeys to families, Walker said.

“It’s grown every year,” she said. “Every year it gains momentum.”

As the number of donations increases, the project needs more volunteers. People can help prepare bags of food 6-8 p.m. Friday. Volunteers can register online at www.feedthecity.net.

But people have been stepping up throughout the year to pull off Saturday’s event. About 20 businesses set up food drop boxes, and 31 schools had food drives. A Tuesday concert garnered 800 boxes of stuffing, and different businesses raised money through customer donations.

“We’ve got some really great collaboration and support that help not just to raise momentum but to raise canned goods,” Walker said.

Now, organizers are arranging those donations in bags and baskets as they prepare to make the holidays a little happier for a couple thousand families. There are no specific qualifications to receive food, but families are asked to fill out registration forms, so organizers can better understand their needs, Walker said.

“What we looked to do is take a national issue and (make) it local,” Walker said. “We think globally but act locally.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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