Local food services ramp up for holiday season

Published 1:44 pm Thursday, December 2, 2021

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Two local food pantries, Assistance & Resource Ministry (A.R.M.) and Loaves and Fishes Food Ministry, are seeing an increase in demand this holiday season.

“The amount of clients that we have had come by has been a steady increase,” said Faye Ingram, A.R.M. executive director, adding that the ministry had served 428 clients through Tuesday. “It’s been an extremely large number of people receiving food this month, with the holiday season coming up. We provide everyone with extra large buggies of food and everyone seems happy with it.”

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The ministry will be open through Dec. 15 and remain closed until Jan. 4, 2022.

“It is not necessarily that the holidays are causing this increase in people, while that may play a big part in it. It also has to do with the fact that the pandemic is still going on as well,” Ingram continued. “We receive a lot of donations from local churches, and without them I don’t really know what we would do. We also work with Walmart, Second Harvest, and Sam’s Club to receive the food that we distribute. We always accept monetary donations as well as food donations as long as it is in date and non-perishable items.”

Another local food ministry, one that provides hot meals as well as food boxes, is the Loaves and Fishes Ministry at River’s Edge Fellowship, and the trend of an increase in new clients is the same for them.

“We have seen a tremendous increase in people receiving food boxes and meals, not only in the last few months but the past year as a whole, as our numbers have doubled since 2020. It does have in part to do with the holiday season, but there are other factors involved. Just last night, on Monday, we distributed 198 hot meals as well as 25 food boxes,” said Loaves and Fishes Director Serena Miller.

“If the public would like to help out, they can show up to the church at 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week to volunteer or if they have donations they can drop those off and they will be thankfully received.”

For those based in the Hunter and Stoney Creek community, there is another ministry that area people can reach out to known as the Much Fruit Ministry.

Teddy Lewis, who began the ministry, stated that as a newly started ministry the need has increased in a short period of time. “We began this ministry back in March, but we have seen a tremendous increase in the amount of people we serve, especially during the recent months when the weather has begun to get colder.”

“We accept both monetary and food donations, as long as the items are non-perishable and in date. Our ministry serves the community on the first Saturday of each month, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.,” Lewis said.

With the month of December just beginning, Much Fruit will be open during those hours this Saturday for all members of the community facing food insecurities to receive non-perishable food. Much Fruit Ministries is located at the Hunter Auto Salvage building located at 823 Highway 91 in Elizabethton and can be contacted at (423) 794-8236.

A.R.M. is located at 714 West C Street in Elizabethton and is open from 10 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. and from 1:30 until 3:45 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and Loaves and Fishes opens from 6 until 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week.

To reach out to A.R.M. visit armfoodpantry.com or call (423) 542-0919. To contact Loaves and Fishes, visit their Facebook page titled Loaves & Fishes Outreach Ministry or call Miller at (423) 543-4901 ext. 1.