Client Stories

"There but for the grace of God go I"

Panola Outreach is an agency helping families in Sumter County who are in “great need.” Lovie Burrell, their Outreach Director, explained that the families they serve often “run out of food or money before the end of the month. The food we are able to offer helps them makes ends meet, and keeps families fed.” Burrell’s group and many others are supplied with food by the West Alabama Food Bank, one of eight such organizations around the state benefiting from the Legal Food Frenzy.

The Legal Food Frenzy is timed to help stock food for the summer – when children on summer break can’t get reduced-price or free lunches at school. Burrell explained “summer time with the children home and not in school only makes things worse.” On the days that they are open they “start at 9 a.m. and help 200 families, cars start lining up at 7 a.m. for fear we will run out of food.” Without the help of the West Alabama Food Bank many families would go hungry.

A local elementary school principal told the story of a grandmother taking care of her grandchild. “The grandmother is in poor health and cannot work. Previously there was a step-grandfather. However, he now has passed and his income in turn is no longer available.” Ms. Tice further explained that the school became aware of this situation through a casual inquiry to the grandmother about how things were going. Ms. Tice recalled that “She began to weep and shared her story.” The grandmother could not make ends meet and was trying to keep food in their home.

Principal Tice was able to tell this grandmother about the wonderful partnership between the school and the Community Food Bank. Now enrolled in the Weekenders Family Market program, this grandmother “always hugs each of us and weeps a little while expressing gratitude for the very gracious gift the Weekenders Family Market provides.”

Being unemployed is a difficult and uncertain time, but Fernanda Bell of Birmingham was able to receive food assistance from Green Valley Baptist Church’s Food Ministry when she found herself between jobs.

“Praise to God! He led me there when I was in need”, said Fernanda. “It was truly a blessing because when I was without a job and didn’t have money, their doors were open.” With this support, Fernanda was able to gain employment and no longer needs food assistance. “Now I can go back and volunteer and give back those blessings to the community”, says Fernanda.

Shortly after the Community Food Bank closed one evening an attractive, but obviously distressed elderly woman arrived seeking food assistance. She explained that she had recently lost her husband and, due to family disputes over his estate, had lost access to all financial resources. A longtime volunteer with nonprofits, she was accustomed to helping others, not seeking help herself. But her phone and utilities had been disconnected and her food supply was depleted. She needed help.

Many others, like this widow, are one crisis away from being able to fulfill this most basic need. Through the generous support of events like Legal Food Frenzy, the Food Bank was able to provide over 12 million meals to these neighbors in 2016, including this widow. For neighbors like this widow, that support was life changing.