Hometown: United Way Hosts Mobile Pantry Event- Williamsburg and Yorktown Daily Article

Executive Director of United Way of Greater Williamsburg Sharon Gibson-Ellis (left) with Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank Karen Joyner at the Dec. 19 event

 

January 15, 2014 By 

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Executive Director of United Way of Greater Williamsburg Sharon Gibson-Ellis (left) with Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank Karen Joyner at the Dec. 19 event

A truck will roll into the parking of the United Way of Greater Williamsburg on Thursday, carrying about 1,000 pounds of meat and produce.

The delivery is for the second Mobile Pantry event, which is supplied by the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. The first event was held Dec. 19, and provided food for 100 households.

Executive Director Sharon Gibson-Ellis said United Way of Greater Williamsburg vets and refers many local residents in need of food to FISH. FISH, an all-volunteer organization, does not have the facility to regularly keep more than dry and canned goods.

Gibson-Ellis said that the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank approached the United Way to provide a fresh, mobile alternative for clients. They provide the food, and the United Way provides the space — their parking lot — as well as much of the manpower for the event. About 25 volunteers helped last month to unload food, set up tables and help carry products to patrons’ cars.

“The idea is that once a month, [the truck] will come to the parking lot with produce and meats to augment what people are already getting from FISH,” Gibson-Ellis said.

Pre-registration is required, and guests are invited from the United Way’s clients, as well as from partners Saint Bede Catholic Church and the Salvation Army.

Saint Bede is also a sponsor of this month’s event, covering the $250 cost for staff and transportation from the food bank. December’s mobile pantry was sponsored by Kings of Glory Lutheran Church.

Gibson-Ellis said the mobile pantry is just another great way that the community is working together to support those unable to provide for themselves.

In 2013, the United Way referred nearly 8,000 people to FISH and other local food pantries. Gibson-Ellis said the organization will track the mobile pantry’s success for the first six months, and consider increasing its frequency depending on need.

“Many of the people that we serve have health issues in a variety of ways,” she said.

For those with diabetes or hypertension, fresh food can help to level out salt and carbohydrate intake. By providing a fresh supply of meat and produce, the United Way aims for healthy meal alternatives to promote better overall well-being.

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