MESSAGES FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
April 4, 2021
It’s been a year since the word COVID-19 was first mentioned on this website and eight months since I posted an update on how we are coping with its impact. I’m happy to report we continue to be fully operational with all four client programs functioning with no interruption in service. With our primary concern being the health and safety our clients and volunteers, we’ve made some operational changes that are working quite well. Also, a growing number of volunteers are returning to work as they become vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Most importantly, our clients are getting the food assistance they need. Recently, a 65+ year old client waiting in line to pick up food told us, “I don’t receive enough money each month in food stamps. Without the Pantry being here to help me make it through the month, I wouldn’t be able to eat the way I’m supposed to since I’m diabetic.” She then went on to thank us and all of the donors who make the help she receives possible. It’s candid conversations like these that make it easy for this “retiree” to continue “working”.
Like all non-profits, Pantry management keeps a close eye on the bottom line and we are cautiously optimistic about our financial footing. Donations received during 2020 from sponsoring churches, businesses, civic organizations and individuals, coupled with several COVID-19 and regional grants, will allow us to operate soundly into 2021.
In addition to remaining fully operational during the pandemic, here are a few other recent accomplishments:
- Our long-term dream of having a walk-in freezer and refrigerator has been realized. We cannot thank Regulator Marine and the John Philips Family Trust enough for the generous gifts that made this a reality. We must also acknowledge the hard work and long hours contributed by the volunteers from Edenton Baptist Church who did the installation.
- Last November’s Thanks4Giving project was a real success with about 300 turkeys and all of the “fixins” being distributed. Outside of our normal food assistance programs, this special project would not have been possible without the tremendous support received from all segments of the community.
- Implementation of Book Bag Buddies, a program that provides weekend meals to approximately 161 at risk children, has been like a roller coaster with students in school, then attending remotely and now a combination of the two. By working closely with the schools, all participating children are being served.
- Preparations are underway for our annual Children’s Summer Nutrition Program which kicks-off in early June. This program makes assistance available to families during the summer when free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs are not available from the schools.
I am so very proud of what this small community in north east North Carolina has been able to accomplish, under very challenging circumstances. With the generous financial support provided by our loyal donors, our volunteers and paid staff have proven to be an innovative and resilient team who never lose sight of our mission; feeding hunger and hope among the food insecure families living in Chowan County.
President, Board of Directors
August 23, 2020
I think we’d all agree 2020 will be remembered as a year of change. As individuals we might remember it as the year we stopped going to those familiar locations where we worshiped, studied or worked. Or we might remember it as the year professional sports leagues were suspended, international travel was restricted, or major adjustments were made to our social welfare programs. Regardless, we’ve all experienced a lot of change.
We’ve experienced a lot of change at the Edenton-Chowan Food Pantry too. Most conspicuously we’re now serving clients using a drive-by model, requiring 75% fewer volunteers, who are masked and gloved. We’ve also reduced our non-program related expenses by restructuring the roles of our four part-time employees and relying more heavily on the talents of our volunteers and Executive Committee members.
More change is anticipated in the next few months:
- Thanks to the generosity of Regulator Marine and former Edentonian John Philips and family, a team of volunteers from Edenton Baptist Church will soon be installing a walk-in refrigerator and freezer allowing us to significantly increase the volume of fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products we can store. The Philips’ were particularly drawn to this project because of the matching funds challenge presented by Regulator Marine. We are profoundly indebted to both.
- Due to social distancing concerns, the Walk-for-Hunger has been canceled and replaced with a community-wide fundraiser/food drive called Thanks4Giving. Sponsored by local businesses, churches, and civic organizations, our goal is to provide a complete Thanksgiving meal (i.e., turkey, vegetables, stuffing, etc.)—in addition to their monthly supplemental food assistance—to families in our low income program. If you represent a business, civic organization, or church you’ll soon be receiving more information on how you can help. News about this event will also be communicated in the Chowan Herald and on our Facebook page.
- Fundraising letters to individual households is being paused until spring. An uptick in contributions for the first six months of the year coupled with receipt of several COVID-related grants provides us the financial cushion to take a short pause in this fundraising routine.
- Our volunteer appreciation luncheon, which celebrates the contributions of our 100+ volunteers, is also being postponed until 2021 due to social distancing concerns.
Despite all this change one thing is certain: our steadfast commitment to providing healthy and nutritious supplemental food to the 2,700 food insecure individuals living in our community. Without our generous supporters and sponsors, we could not make or meet this commitment.
At April’s Board of Directors meeting, I predicted the Food Pantry would emerge from these changing times as a stronger, more resilient team ready to meet the needs of the food insecure children, individuals, families, and seniors living in our community. I am more optimistic than ever about this prediction and pray God’s love will shine upon us all in the coming months.
President, Board of Directors
April 20, 2020
The purpose of this message is to provide a brief update on how the Edenton-Chowan Food Pantry is coping with the impact of COVID-19. We are happy to report all four client programs (e.g., low income families, seniors, book bag buddies and emergency food) are OPEN and operating with no interruption in service. We are quite proud of this accomplishment as sadly 9 of our 15 sister pantries in the region are closed. Enormous support from our donors and volunteers has enabled us to overcome the challenges associated with achieving this kind of distinction.
Have we had to make some changes? Of course we have.
- To ensure the health and safety of our clients and volunteers, enhanced sanitizing processes and the use of personal protective equipment was added to our already vigorous procedures
- To comply with social distancing guidelines, we adapted our “walk-in” client distribution system to a “drive-thru” model
- Complying with the CDC’s stay at home guidelines, we’ve learned how to operate with 1/4th of our dedicated volunteer team who chose to stay engaged because they have no underlying health issues that could place them at a higher risk for infection
What about our clients, you ask? How are they doing? We have not yet seen the exponential growth in new clients being reported by the media or our partner agencies Feed American and Food Bank of the Albemarle. We remain vigilant; however, that this situation can change swiftly and if it does we are poised to respond accordingly.
Food supplies, at this point, continue to come in regularly from our two major food providers, Food Lion and Food Bank of the Albemarle. We are also fortunate we entered March with the proceeds from two large canned food drives sponsored by Rocky Hock Baptist Church and the Chowan County’s Sheriff’s Office. St. Anne Catholic Church is also holding a large number of canned goods for us from their 40 Days of Lent food drive.
From a fiscal perspective, donations are up compared to March of last year thus enabling us to absorb all additional COVID-19 costs. This uptick in donations also allows us to scale-up food supplies rapidly, if needed, to meet the needs of a larger client population.
Despite all of the uncertainly that surrounds us, we continue to look forward. We’ve begun making preparations for kicking-off our annual Children’s Summer Nutrition Program in early June and we’re shaping plans for how we may need to operate once the Governor re-opens North Carolina.
Thank you for your interest and support of our mission. Coupled with the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and paid staff, we expect to emerge from these times as a stronger, more resilient team ready to serve the food insecure living in Chowan County.
President, Board of Directors