POMARIA — “If the people are hungry feed them.”
For a year now, people in Pomaria and the surrounding area who needed help to put food on their tables have had a local resource in the Pomaria Community Food Bank.
Founder Shelvia Hamm said years ago God called her to start a food ministry and so she and her husband, Jeff, did just that — from the trunk of his car. They called the ministry Helping Hands and carried food in the car with them to give to church members after services.
Though she lives in Irmo, Hamm in a Pomaria native. She looked to her former hometown for a permanent location for the outreach operation.
For about 10 years that place was St. James A.M.E. Church but the ministry eventually outgrew the space there. Members of its board agreed to move it to downtown Pomaria since that would be a more centralized location.
The food bank already had partnered with community churches but found a new home thanks to the generosity of Jimmy and Ruth Wilson and of Stanley Griffin. Griffin, the uncle of volunteer Sandra Bowers, helped get the wheels rolling financially.
Wilson connected the group with its current location and Griffin helped by providing them with a building free of charge, but so did Gurnie and Nora Stuck, who made the first major monetary donation to the food bank when it was located at St. James.
The Pomaria Food Bank board determines a person’s eligibility on a case-by-case basis using procedures similar to Harvest Hope.
However, since the bank is independently funded through charitable donations, its board has flexibility that other organizations might not have.
The bank provides food for the backpack program at Pomaria-Garmany Elementary and at times donates food to the Jenkinsville food bank affiliated with Little River Baptist Church. They also supply some food for children in the summer months.
“We try to limit our outreach to this area,” Hamm said, “because sometimes people are in need and have transportation issues so they need a local resource.”
Johnny Allen of Prosperity, who is disabled and on a fixed income, the food bank is a Godsend. “I am so thankful for it,” Allen said. “And quick to give them praise. They really help me through the lean times.”
Ron Hope, Terry Long and the Newberry Car Buffs Club installed a wall to section off the food bank from an administrative area that doubles as a clothing bank.
Hamm especially thanked James Livingston, Jimmy Wilson and Stanley Griffin for their support as well as faithful volunteers Sandra Bowers, Russell Blanchette, Jervis Perry and Melissa Wooten.
Churches are an important resource for the food their members provide and for the financial assistance they give in paying the food bank’s monthly utility bill.
Hamm said in the new location she estimates three times as many people have been served.
Some area churches donated their Souper Bowl of Caring funds to the Pomaria Food Bank. Others hold monthly food drives and/or thematic food drives. Items those drives often include are foods like peanut butter, rice, grits and noodles.
She reminded that hunger is a daily problem that knows no season. While she is appreciative of all donations, she encouraged community members to drop off some food and help take care of people who may need a hand through a difficult patch in life.
The Pomaria Community Food Bank, located at 110 Victoria St., is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.