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Food Bank Inc. now at old Julia P.

Charity moves from old Sallie Z. building

Food Bank Inc. now at old Julia P.

Food Bank Inc. now at old Julia P.

While still getting settled in a new ...


Food Bank Inc. has finished moving into its new location, the old Julia P. Bryant Elementary School, and began serving clients Monday.

Formerly located in the old Sallie Zetterower Elementary School building, the Food Bank serves Bulloch County families and individuals below a certain income level in need of assistance. Often, those seeking assistance are suffering an emergency hardship.

The new location will have an entire wing dedicated to food storage and distribution. Another wing, with six classrooms, will be used  for the Food Bank’s morning outreach educational programs. The kitchen and dining room, once inspected and certified will enable Rebecca’s Café, a hot-meal provider that is part of the Food Bank, to serve at least one meal a week in the facility, with the goal of  five meals per week by the end of the year.

Additionally, the Food Bank hopes to begin providing a summer lunch program for children five days a week this summer.

Joe Bill Brannon, the Food Bank’s operations manager, couldn’t be more excited about the move. Passionate about his work, the 76-year-old Brannon volunteers about 50 or 60 hours a week at the facility.

With great pride, he said: “You’ve got to see this place. You need to come down here. We aimed for [the old Julia P.] five years ago. It’s just too good to be true.”

Brannon has a heart for all those in need, but has special tenderness for hungry children. Of the several hundred people served each month, Brannon says 60 percent to 70 percent are children. Speaking of the great needs, he said, “I can’t see how we can let a  situation like this happen in our country.”

Brannon does his part and more, however, and part of that passion comes from his own childhood.

“There was nothing like this when I was growing up,” he said. “I was raised in Alabama by a single parent; there were six kids. My mom worked as a waitress in a beer joint for little more than $13a week plus tips.

“There wasn’t a part of Birmingham I didn’t live in, because we’d move in with a promise of rent, and three months later, they kicked  us out because we couldn’t pay rent,” he continued. “Our gas and lights were turned off more than they were on.”

When Brannon helped with the local postal service’s first food drive as president of the Letter Carriers Union, the following year as a liaison, and the third year as a Food Bank board member, he saw the needs of Bulloch County families.

“When I retired from the post office and with my military retirement, I had the resources to give my time to the Food Bank. I got more and more involved,” he said. “Now, it’s seven days a week. It’s a demanding job. We feed a lot of hurting people here in Bulloch County.”

Brannon is quick to change his words.

“It’s not a job,” he said. “It’s a hobby. When you do something you enjoy, it’s not a job.”

Brannon said he is preparing a letter to send to all the local churches.

“If every church donated $25 a month, I could feed everybody in Bulloch County,” he said. “And, every church will have someone come to this Food Bank at some time, so they are helping their own.”

Brannon is also quick to share his appreciation for the support the Food Bank receives. He truly believes the operation is a community effort.

He is especially appreciative of the volunteers that help keep the organization going.

“I wish I could list all the ones who volunteer and help, but there’s just too many,” he said.

Local businesses, church groups, civic groups, college students and personnel, community service volunteers and individuals donate time and money to the Food Bank.

Just this past week, throngs of volunteers helped complete the move.

“I thought this was going to take us weeks,” Brannon said. “We lease from the Bulloch County School Board and they graciously gave us a 60-day grace period to get moved.

“Mike Rollins from the Rec Department provided seven or eight strong boys and trucks and trailers to get us started,” he continued. “They did a lot of the heavy moving. Then, this weekend, over 150 college students and volunteers gave us the final push. People think I’m exaggerating, but we had at least that many. College students would pull up, load things in their trunks, and take it to the new location. It was organized chaos.”

Boy Scouts from three local troops and Cub Scouts from one pack also helped in the move, said Jed Hewitt, the Ogeechee District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America’s Coastal Empire Council.

Even though he sees a lot of devastating family situations, Brannon remains positive about this community and especially the Food Bank.

“This is a good thing. I’ve always believed if it was meant to happen, it will happen. I do believe the good Lord intervened; I’ve seen it time after time here. I know in my heart that this was meant to be.”

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