The February installment of the city of Statesboro’s and Feed the Boro’s effort to provide free supplemental food to local families in need is scheduled for this Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. on the Statesboro High School campus.
After Feed the Boro’s donors and volunteers provided similar distributions in November and December, the city government stepped up with $13,000 for monthly distributions in January, February and March. The city paid for the full $5,000 delivery of deeply discounted groceries from the America’s Second Harvest food bank network in January and is doing so again for this Feb. 20 distribution.
Then the city will give $3,000 and Feed the Boro will provide $2,000 for this year’s third distribution, slated for March 27. Each distribution begins at 9 a.m. on its assigned Saturday and lasts until noon or until all food is distributed.
“COVID-19 has shed light on just how vulnerable many of our neighbors are,” Mayor Jonathan McCollar said in his State of the City speech Tuesday evening.
Other relief efforts
He talked about the city’s programs to provide relief to people and businesses affected by the pandemic and resulting losses in jobs and trade. These efforts began with the strictly local “Love UR City” campaign last May, which raised more than $42,000 in two weeks for grants to local small businesses and residents.
In late spring 2020, the city also placed $250,000 into a loan loss guarantee fund to make up to $1 million in loans for Statesboro small businesses available from Carver State Bank, which is based in Savannah.
Then last fall the city of Statesboro received $1.7 million in federal funding under the original CARES Act, for “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security.”
Of this, $250,000 was used to replace the city’s money in the loan guarantee fund, and City Council in in October set aside another $250,000 for three direct-relief programs.
These included $100,000 for rent and mortgage help to Statesboro residents in danger of eviction or foreclosure and $75,000 each for a utility bill assistance fund and a program to help small businesses.
But when the utility bill assistance program had used less than one-tenth of its allocation by December, the mayor and council shifted $13,000 to food relief. Each of the 3,000 boxes of groceries provided over three months is intended to be enough to feed a family of four for one week, McCollar noted.
“To date, we have been able to aid 68 businesses and 138 families with our grant programs and have distributed 836 boxes of food for families in need,” he said Tuesday.
That 836 was the number of vehicles signed in for the January food distribution, but Feed the Boro Chairman Don Poe has said that 999 boxes were distributed, with some vehicles containing more than one family or a large family that was given two boxes.
The mayor on Tuesday publicly thanked organizations and individuals who have carried out COVID-19 prevention or assistance work or assisted in the city’s efforts.
“This evening I want to make abundantly clear that none of these efforts would have been possible if it was not for the tireless efforts of volunteers, such as Squash the Spread who distributed more than 80,000 masks across the county and within the city limits,” McCollar said.
Amid thanking several other organizations and their leaders, he said he was thankful for “the remarkable work of Don Poe and the volunteers of Feed the Boro … answering the call to help those families that are most vulnerable in our community.”
As with previous distributions, drivers should approach Statesboro High from Fleming Road behind the football stadium and drive as directed toward the front of the campus. Vehicles’ trunks should be open and empty. Volunteers will put the food box and produce items in and then close the trunk.
An adult from each household receiving food is asked to fill out a short form, which includes a chart of maximum household incomes for eligibility. Blanks are to be filled in with the numbers of children, adults and senior adults in each household. Then the responsible adult is supposed to sign, indicating that the household is income-eligible.
The forms are collected, but the volunteers have no means or time to check eligibility, Poe has said.