July 15, 2013
A Scottsville woman is bringing the community together in an effort to feed families in need. In this week's Stephanie's Heroes, CBS19’s Stephanie Satchell is featuring Bonnie Cooper who coordinates the bi-monthly mobile food pantry in Scottsville.
Twice a month, it’s busy under the pavilion in downtown Scottsville. The truck backs up and dozens of volunteers come out to unload boxes, pack and distribute free groceries to folks who pull up to the mobile food pantry.
“In our community, because we're a rural community, it's very different than if you live in town. If you live in town, there are probably 20 churches that distribute food for various causes. Here, we're the only game in town. Where do people go? This is where they come,” said Bonnie Cooper, Coordinator, Mobile Food Pantry.
Coordinator Bonnie Cooper says folks check in and line up the nearby parking lot early waiting for a chance to drive through the line to pick up enough food to feed their families.
“I had a man who came to me not too long ago and he said ‘I used to provide money to this organization. I never thought I'd be here for food.’ So, you never know. You never know who's going to be in that line. It could be us next week,” said Cooper.
In addition to drive up customers, they even deliver food to people who can't come out. Jaunt also takes food to people. The pantry even helps its own volunteer workers who are in need.
After they finish their shift, Cooper makes sure that volunteers who need food have access to groceries.
“It helps a lot. It really does,” said Phillis Randolph, a volunteer and recipient of the program.
With the help of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Cooper started this project more than two years ago.
The folks who work closely with her say, she always gives 110 percent to the program.
“[She gives] a lot of energy and commitment and certainly devotion and a great deal of time and energy,” said Bruce Lugn, Coordinator.
Although, Cooper is the driving force behind this program, she says she couldn't have done it without her volunteers.
“The volunteers that turn out are our real hometown heroes. They turn out in boiling hot days. They turn out in freezing days. They turn out in rain. They always show up and they're always willing to help.”
Although, Cooper plans to turn the program over to someone else when she retires, her hope is that it will only grow and be able to send even more groceries home with the people in need.
The mobile food pantry takes place the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at about 10:00 am. It's held at the pavilion area next to the Tavern on the James in Scottsville.
The pantry feeds about 285 families from Scottsville, Esmont and Schuyler each week.