Haywood County’s six community organizations provide food assistance throughout the year to underserved members who live in their jurisdictions.
During the pandemic, Bethel Rural Community Organization is placing greater emphasis on its two committees that provide aid to the public: Benevolence and Food Pantry.
Food is secured weekly by a group of alternating volunteers who make a 1,000-pound weekly food pick-up at the MANNA station in Asheville.
In conjunction with a BRCO Rural Preservation Committee grant from Farm Bureau, BRCO is also able to provide coupons to pantry participants who can use them to secure fresh produce from local farms and produce stands.
The scenario has evolved into a drive-by pickup by participants, with pre-packaged boxes filled with canned and box staples, meat and produce, as well as dog food for those with pets.
Prior to pantry day, hours of sorting, boxing, transporting, and distributing food items is possible due to a number of volunteers who assist throughout the pantry operation process.
Pre-COVID-19, the organization served approximately 18 families and 42 individuals. This past week, numbers escalated to 37 families and 118 individuals.
The organization has indicated that while they do not require more volunteers at this time, the primary need is for food and funds to purchase food.
MANNA, due to shortages at the Asheville warehouse, is distributing funds to pantries throughout the region to purchase groceries. With dramatically increased demand and rising grocery prices, however, that funding falls short of requirements.
Donations may be sent to BRCO, Attn: Food Pantry, PO Box 1333, Waynesville, N.C. 28786 or contact telephone numbers listed on BRCO’s website under the About BRCO – Location and Contacts header: www.bethelrural.org.