In 2016, I was approached to become a part of the United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC) Board of Directors. I knew very little about the United Way, other than I gave contributions each year through my employer. Once joining the board, I began to realize how important United Way was to all of Kershaw County. Many people think United Way only helps people in Camden, but I soon learned about a new initiative called the Mobile Nutrition Center for the rural food deserts in Kershaw County. Other than in the town of Kershaw (In Lancaster County), we have no grocery stores and only two convenience stores in the northern part of Kershaw County. The larger grocery stores are 30 minutes away, either in Camden or Lancaster.
The Mobile Nutrition Center (MNC) started up soon after I became a board member and was looking to expand to a third site in the Buffalo-Mt. Pisgah area. My wife and I attend Buffalo Baptist Church and we were interested to learn more about the program. Both Nicholas Julian, then Director of the MNC and Donny Supplee, President of the UWKC, came out to our church to meet with our Pastor and staff to discuss the program. My pastor and I went to Cassatt Baptist Church to learn how the operation ran and what it would look like in our community. Our church decided to form our “Hunger Warriors” to help stamp out hunger in the Buffalo-Mt. Pisgah areas of Kershaw County. The church voted to become a distribution site and our first distribution was in August 2017. The first few months we averaged around 15 families served by our site. Under the current director Scott Crandall we served 37 families from our site in December 2018.
Families come in from all around northeastern Kershaw County: Buffalo, Mt. Pisgah, Bethune, Westville, Abney, and Timrod once a month to receive an allotment of food. These foods include canned goods, pastas, breads, pizzas, meats, and fresh produce. Many times, we have families lined up out of the door 30 minutes before we start the distribution. We’ve had great support from the United Way in this program and we truly believe that this program has made a positive change in the families who are being assisted. Our Hunger Warriors love to see the smiles on the faces of children who come each month for a pizza or a small dessert, realizing that may be the only time they get those foods. We see other families who are struggling because it’s near the end of the month and they just cannot afford any additional food until the first of the month rolls around. Our church family at Buffalo Baptist has also been incredibly supportive and generous with donations of clothing, coats, gloves, and an annual Christmas gift bag for our families. We also have great partnerships with the Community Medical Clinic (Livewell), who come each distribution to meet with our families and Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, who have provided extra manpower and assistance with additional food for the families.
My wife and I encourage you to support the United Way in whatever way you can. The United Way of Kershaw County needs your financial support, volunteer hours, prayers, and encouragement. They have helped us to fill a gap in our community that previously seemed impossible. Your contributions reach neighbors and friends right here at home.
Author: Chris and Jaime Jones