NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and Eastern Shore hosted a mobile emergency food pantry outside the Family Dollar on Church Street on Friday.
The surrounding community has heavily relied on the Family Dollar to get food, but the store shut down earlier this month following a fire.
“It hurt the whole community because we don’t got nowhere to shop,” Resident Vernell Sears said.
The Foodbank vowed to help ease the burden for the Calvert Square community with the mobile food bank.
“It’s a real burden for people around here. It was already a food desert, meaning there’s no fresh produce and food like that, lean protein and things like that available in the area,” said David Brandt, senior director of communications for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, said.
Family Dollar’s next-door neighbor is the foodbank which sprang into action.
“It impacted their ability to even get shelf-stable products. We felt it was important to be here to help serve them,” Emma Inman, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore Chief Impact Officer, said.
The Foodbank has boxes filled with 35 pounds of food for the community and served 1,364 people, including 421 households.
“Our neighbors in need are also looking for food security and that’s important,” Christopher Tan, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore President & CEO.
Sears lived in Young’s Terrace, which is just a few blocks away. He stopped by the food distribution Friday morning.
“I am really happy,” he said. “You got smiles on everybody’s face.”
Smiles and gratitude filled the corner of Church Street Shopping Center.
“I really needed this,” Sears said as walked his food box and watermelon home to enjoy.
“I’m going to go home and enjoy this,” he said. “That’s a real blessing.”
Before the distribution began, many families waited in line by cars and on foot to receive a box.
“It makes us feel honored, that they need us. The fact that there are so many people here already demonstrates how great the need is,” Brandt said.
The Garden of Hope partnered with the Gethsemane Community Fellowship Baptist Church to support residents. They will offer transportation to Berkley Supermarket and the nearby Family Dollar. The bus will run every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:45 a.m., 10:30 a. m. and 11 a.m. Tuesday will be reserved for the senior community. You can reserve your seat by calling 757-622-7060.