By: Tina Bryson
SALYERSVILLE, Ky. – Water into Wine Food Pantry is the only pantry serving the residents of Magoffin County, Kentucky. Their caseload has exploded in recent months due to the fallout from COVID-19. Their partnership with Christian Appalachian Project’s Operation Sharing has enabled them to continue to meet the growing need.
“We recently surpassed our all-time record of the number of families we have served in a month, with April being our largest ever at 1180 families served,” said Jeff Tackett, Water into Wine’s community outreach and mission coordinator. “In May, so far, we have added 158 new families on our caseload. We now offer full curbside service, where clients remain in their vehicles while food is loaded into the trunk or truck. This keeps our clients and volunteers safe.”
Water into Wine has been a partner organization with CAP since 2017. During the COVID crisis, CAP has been able to provide 2,500 cases of chips and 43,000 pounds of salisbury and country steak to help fill food boxes for families in need.
“We are grateful for the partners we have like Feed the Children that make these kinds of donations possible,” said Aaron Thoms, manager of CAP’s Operation Sharing warehouse in Paintsville, Kentucky. “Feed the Children works to make sure that children and their families have the food they need. It is a great model for how we all work together to fill gaps for families whose lives have been turned upside down.”
According to Tackett, they have received other donations from CAP’s Operation Sharing that have originated with Feed the Children such as baby food, protein drinks, household items, clothing, and shoes. When shipments arrive, Tackett coordinates a team of volunteers at Lakefront Church of God to make sure that their own network reaches areas of the community facing critical shortages.
“Without these partnerships with Christian Appalachian Project and Feed the Children, we would have a massive hole that would engulf our county leaving many families without the essential items they need during this crisis,” Tackett said. “Every item fills a need. Every morsel goes into an empty stomach. Each jar of baby food helps quieten the cries of a hungry child. Sometimes our donors don’t see the effects of their efforts, but we see the difference these donations make.”
Thoms and his staff make sure that pantry partners like Water into Wine get meats and other food items to meet increasing needs in the community.
“They have had more than a 35 percent increase in people needing assistance. Where they would usually serve around 800 a month, they are serving over 1,000. That’s a huge increase all at once,” Thoms said. “We do our best to make sure that they can serve children and families who need supplemental food since the health crisis has had such an impact on the economy.”
Tackett works with the local school system to make sure daily school lunches delivered to children at home have needed items. Water into Wine has also assisted with helping to stock and replenish supplies at the local senior citizen center where the Meals on Wheels program delivers to needy seniors in the county that are often homebound.
“When we receive large amounts of food, it is our goal to fill the cars in the pantry drive thru line, and look at other agencies in the county that serve people in need that can help with distribution,” Tackett said. “We know the needs of our community are great, and with men and women no longer able to travel miles to the factories, we know that hard times are made more difficult. CAP and Feed the Children remind us that we are not alone. We will get through this together.”