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Run on the bank

The sign on the door of the storage room at the Christian Service Center says it all, “Food supply low. Can only serve families with 1 or 2 in family.”

Normally, the stock room is brimming with cereal, green beans, rice and more; however, that has not been the case for many months, according to volunteers Jo Isenberg and Charles Young.

On Monday and Wednesday each week, the center distributes food to needy families from Covington County. One time each month — usually on the first Monday — a shipment is received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And until that shipment arrived Monday, the shelves inside the center were nearly bare, Young said.

“We had to turn people away this morning because we didn’t have anything to give until the truck arrived,” he said. “They send us one shipment a month and the rest of the time we depend on local donations from churches and civic organizations.”

But those donations have slowly dwindled until there is not enough food to make it through the month.

Why?

“I’d hate to speculate, but I bet it has a lot to do with the economy,” Young said. “We depend so much on the local churches and such, but we’re not getting enough donated. I don’t know why. It could be that they don’t have it to give or that people don’t realize the need. But I can tell you that by the end of the month, we’re out of food.”

The center is operated by the Covington Baptist Association, and in 2007, 133,000 pounds of food were distributed to Covington County residents. In Andalusia alone, that fed approximately 300 families a month.

In addition to the center in Andalusia, the association also runs centers in Opp and Florala. In Opp, distribution is held twice a week and once a month in Florala.

A typical allotment of food is 15 pounds per person in the family.

“And sometimes here lately, we’re not able to give that much,” Young said. “That’s why the sign says we’ve limited serving families with only one or two people in it. We just didn’t have the food to chose from.”

Additionally, both Isenberg and Young said they have noticed a definite shift in not only the number of clients the center serves but also the age range.

“I’d definitely say we’re seeing a younger set of people come in,” Isenberg said. “Usually there is a line of people waiting to be served when we open the door and it keeps getting longer and longer.”

Young attributes that increase in clients to a “word of mouth” approach.

“We get more and more clients as they find about what we do,” he said. “A lot of times it’s because of situations like they’ve just moved here and are looking for a job or someone has just lost their job. Either way, there is no money to buy food and they need our help.

“And that’s the whole purpose of why we’re here — we’re here to meet the needs of people the best we can with what we have,” he said. “It’s just that right now, it’s meeting that need with a lot less that we need.”

In Monday’s shipment, 11,687 pounds of food were delivered — enough to feed an estimated 780 people or 195 families of four.

“That might sound like a lot, but it’s not,” Young said. “Before it got here this morning, we were down to jars of peanut butter and jelly, green beans and corn.

“It’s not a lot, but if you’re hungry enough, that’s a meal,” he said.

The Christian Service Center is located on South Three Notch Street, and for more information on how to make donations, contact the center at 222-3840.