The city of Valdosta, ranked #9 on poorest cities in the United States according to reporting of USAToday in 2018, falls in the top 10% for food insecurity in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic further multiplied the food insecurity of the Lowndes County area, particularly for parents without work and children unable to receive meals through the school systems.
Beginning March 16, 2020 and continuing through August 26, 2020, Living Bridges Ministry responded to this need by serving sack lunches along with breakfasts to the community. While serving sack lunches, we averaged more than 500 people each meal, and more than 700 people served each time over the final two months. Since each sack contained a lunch, a breakfast, and a snack, we have sent over 85,000 meals out into the community! As area schools resumed with a virtual component, the program transitioned to serving bags of groceries to registered families who were in need and an additional 30,000 meals were served out that way.
Currently our Food Ministries include:
Walk Up Food Pantry -this is one of 9 in the area and they are stocked and maintained by the community. It holds shelf life groceries and hygiene products and is available 24/7. On the inside righthand door there is a list of other similar pantries in the area.
First Wednesday Groceries- On the first Wednesday of the month we make groceries available to families in need. The bags are made with shelf stable groceries providing a breakfast, two other meals without meat, and a dessert.
BONUS groceries- These groceries are by far the best deal for our clients! Those who take 2 hours of class or volunteer for two hours during our Client Volunteer hours can order from our menu. Groceries are earned Wednesday through Tuesday, are ordered by Tuesday, and are picked up on Wednesday between 10am and 2pm. This is the only program that distributes meat, produce, and dairy.