At Americans Helping Americans® through our basic needs program, we strive to provide food to struggling families and the elderly and disabled on meager fixed incomes living in distressed Appalachian communities.
Our food support program includes distributing thousands of food boxes annually (10,000 last year) to our partners in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and elsewhere – containing enough nonperishable food items such as canned meats, vegetables and fruits, pasta, rice, beans, and more to feed a family of four for a week.
“The food boxes we receive from Americans Helping Americans® are much needed by the people who come to our family pantry,” says Dyanne Spriggs, co-executive director of our partner in McDowell County, West Virginia, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA). Diane notes that while the organization receives “a limited amount” from a local food bank, “it’s not enough to provide a decent food box to all the people who come to us for help.”
Dyanne comments that the people who come to BCPIA for food boxes are those who work at “very low-paying jobs, many grandparents who are raising their children, and families who receive food stamps but need extra food.
“It is the people who are simply trying to provide for their families.”
In Lee County, Kentucky, our partner there, Cumberland Mountain Outreach (CMO), which distributed more than 330 food boxes received from Americans Helping Americans® in September, also operates a food pantry supported by Americans Helping Americans®, reaching approximately 360 low-income senior citizens.
Through CMO’s food delivery service, nearly two dozen elderly and disabled “shut-ins” are brought their USDA food commodities by its food pantry manager thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®.
“They cannot get out to receive their food any other way,” says CMO executive director Cindy Evanoff. “This service is so much fun because every elderly person is lonely and needs someone to talk to.
“Of course, they all say ‘thank you,’ and this food is a blessing for them.”
Cindy also recently reported that the food pantry manager is working with a local low-income senior housing community to register and qualify the residents for USDA commodity foods and include them on her food delivery runs in the future.
In Marion, Virginia, our partner Sprouting Hope operates its Homegrown program with support from Americans Helping Americans®, where 23 families learned how to build and maintain a garden in their backyard this past summer.
The program’s success is in its results, as many budding, first-time gardeners raise enough vegetables and fruits for their households and plenty to share with extended family members, friends, and neighbors.
And with the holiday season fast approaching, we are busy working on our holiday food program, which last Thanksgiving and Christmas time provided vouchers to our partners in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia to distribute to their clients for use in local grocery stores to purchase a turkey that benefited more than 17,000 individuals.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, Dyanne noted that last Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1,300 children, parents, and grandparents “were able to enjoy a holiday meal with their family that included the traditional turkey through vouchers they received to pick up the turkey at the store, made possible by Americans Helping Americans®.”
Among them was Crystal, who told us, “I was so grateful when I received a turkey. I had just started my new job, and my husband was out of work, so we didn’t have the funds to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
“Because of you all at Americans Helping Americans®, my family was able to have a wonderful Thanksgiving!”
And the bottom line for Dyanne?
“Thanksgiving and Christmas are a very special time to spend with your family. Many people could provide a delicious holiday meal because of the support from Americans Helping Americans®.”