By Roger Surprenant

Here is an update and overview of the Pamlico County Fishes and Loaves outreach program so we can better understand just how important it is to the people that are helped, and to the county as a whole.

Fishes and Loaves is a grass-roots project that was started by a few individuals in February of 2008 to replace the discontinued county food bank. The program distributes food in four different ways:

1. The Referral Pantry. People receive food on a regular basis and must be approved by, and work through, the county. This pantry feeds 224 families each month, up 26.8 percent over 2011.

2. Emergency referrals. These are requests directly from pastors of Pamlico County churches and are usually a one-time instance. Thirty families per month are emergency referrals.

3. The Mobile Food Pantry. This is the federal food truck that comes once a month. Its food is available to everyone and must be distributed that same day. This pantry furnishes food to an average 120 families a month.

4. Food Lion Outreach. Fishes and Loaves daily picks up foods that are being removed from the shelves and distributes immediately to pastors of nine churches for the needy families in their congregations on a rotating basis. This portion of the project feeds an average of 319 families a month.

Considering that 47 percent of the Pamlico County population’s income is at or below the federal poverty level, it is vital that this program continue.

With the exception of the mobile food truck, this operation is run completely by private donations of food and money. Fishes and Loaves performs a much-needed service to Pamlico County, and our congregation should be thankful and proud that we are able to give a helping hand to those in need. During 2012, Bethany contributed $2,929.01.

The program now has reached the saturation point with regard to helping new people without expanding the pool of volunteers. Besides Polly and me, Dave Netting is a volunteer from our congregation. If anyone else wishes to get involved on an occasional basis, please contact me.

In closing, there are two quotations that I offer for your reflection: First, “We can only judge what is proper and right by our standards of right and wrong. We must continue throughout our lives to do what we conceive to be good. If we have corn and meat, and know of a family that has none, we divide with them.” –Chief Black Hawk, Sauk Indian Tribe, 1838.

My personal favorite, and one that I try to live my life by, is: “Do good when you can for you may not pass this way again.”

Editor’s Note: Bethany collects a special offering for Fishes and Loaves the third Sunday of each month.

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