Dozens of Bulloch County families will have plenty to be thankful for this holiday when partaking in free Thanksgiving meals provided by the Statesboro Food Bank.
A steady stream of residents flowed to and from the bank’s location at the old Sallie Zetterower Elementary School Tuesday, where volunteers delivered 100 Thanksgiving meals to people who could use a leg up during the season of giving.
Visitors to the food bank, who registered earlier in the month to receive dinners through a statewide nutritional program, walked away with 12- to 14-lbs. turkeys and a bounty that could satisfy even the most voracious of appetites.
“Not only do they get turkeys, but pretty near a complete meal,” said Joe Bill Brannon, a Food Bank volunteer and the agency’s vice president of procurement. “Folks also get sacks with two cans of cranberry sauce, two cans of green beans, two cans of corn, two packs of stuffing mix, ten servings of instant potatoes, a pack of gravy and two cans of fruit. That is a regular, full thanksgiving meal.”
Dinners were given to families that would otherwise have little else to eat, Brannon said. Registered individuals had to meet income level requirements and have dependent children in their family.
The giveaway — done in partnership with the Food Bank and Statesboro Lions Club — provided a welcome relief, however slight, to people who participated.
“I am very much thankful,” said Jody Jones, a Brooklet resident and mother of three. “I was laid off from my job, and things have been really tight. This is helping me out very much.”
“It has been a struggle for me and my family lately,” said Tierre Eady. “I am very much appreciative. Anything helps.”
Tuesday’s giveaway and the week of Thanksgiving mark the beginning of the Food Bank’s busiest time, Brannon said.
“In a normal week we will serve 100 people/families,” he said. “During the holiday season — Thanksgiving to Christmas — the number could go up to 150 per week.”
This season will be the Food Bank’s first in its new facility. The bank moved in March from a cramped Proctor Street building into the kitchen and cafeteria area of the old Sallie Zetterower school building. The Bulloch County Board of Education — after the new Sallie Zetterower Elementary opened on Cawana Road in January — leased the room to the Food Bank for $1.
The new building, with its increased capacity and freezers that allow for storage of perishable items, better equips the Food Bank for handling the holiday rush, Brannon said.
“We get a lot more people during the holidays and we are prepared for it this year,” he said. “We have plenty of stuff at the food bank and hopefully more coming in. The new facility enables us to give more and provide better service.”
Brannon said volunteers will be on-hand at the location almost every day — Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and New Years not withstanding — to assist families with their food needs. Supplies will be given out between 2 – 4 p.m.
“It is amazing the facility they have here,” said Channing Beauman, a Georgia Southern University student volunteering time for the turkey giveaway. “Being able to give back to the community and give people things they may not have for the holidays is a great thing.”
“We just do what we can,” Brannon said. “This is what Lions [Club members] do. Our motto is to serve and we take care of our needy.”
Brannon said if anyone wants to donate items to the Food Bank or learn more about volunteering, individuals can call him on his cell at (912) 682-4144.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.