After the Storm: Greensboro’s Community Cupboard sees a dramatic increase in need after tornado

by | Apr 25, 2018 | #feedinghealth | 0 comments

A family stands, a mother leaning against the father, holding infant twins in their arms.

Only three months old, the babies are tiny, but anyone who has held a baby for a long time knows that they get heavy. The parents sway in the shade of the building and switch arms.

The family is waiting, along with 361 other households, to enter the large gymnasium of the East Market Street Seventh Day Adventist Church in Greensboro.

It’s been four days since an enormous tornado hit the East Side of Greensboro, leaving a path of destruction that was 33.6 miles long and roughly one-quarter of a mile wide and extending north to Rockingham County, finally coming to an end in the small town of Ruffin.

Inside the gym, volunteers from the church and from Crescent Rotary help Second Harvest unpack pallets upon pallets of boxes, organizing apples, bananas, bread, broccoli, tooth brushes, deodorant, dish detergent, feminine hygiene items and more around a large circle of tables. A Food Lion truck idles in the parking lot waiting to be unloaded; a delivery from Procter & Gamble is stacked against a far wall. Student volunteers from Tri-City Christian Academy are packing up bags of food to bring out into the neighborhood door to door.

The church must have brought out every table of the neighborhood to make this happen.

Over 320 homes were damaged–many completely destroyed–and over 20,000 customers lost power for the better part of a week–destruction that would hurt anywhere, but especially here.

The areas hit by the April 15th tornado were areas that were already struggling and overwhelmingly low-income. Clearing out debris, tarping roofs, repairing water damage, and cutting up fallen trees is hard anywhere, but after this immediate disaster relief work is done, these neighborhoods have a long path to recovery.

Families here must shift their carefully balanced budgets to replace lost or damaged items: a new mattress to replace the one that was water damaged, a new school backpack for the one lost in the debris. Some families–many families–had taken the gamble that low income families often must make and did not have renters or homeowners insurance. Others have lost wages due to days missed because of damaged cars or the need to stay home and clean up their homes; others have lost their jobs all together.

The apples and bread and toothbrushes delivered today by the food bank to Seventh Day Adventist Church can not reverse the tornado, nor can it reverse poverty. But it can set the table and help families make ends meet when they have–and will have–many other concerns to turn their attention to.

Our partners at Seventh Day Adventist Church of East Market Street know this all too well. They serve these communities with Second Harvest at the weekly Thursday morning Community Cupboard program– typically serving about 225 families each week, or 685 individuals (read about the regular weekly Community Cupboard here). The church is located right by the disaster area of East Greensboro, and many of the people who have come on this day have walked here, pulling wagons of children and carts to carry food in. The disaster has brought 101 new families to the distribution this week.

We give thanks to our supporters at Crescent Rotary Club, Foodlion, Bimbo USA, Walmart, Harris Teeter, Vernon Produce, Procter & Gamble, and Lowes Foods, who enabled Second Harvest to bring extra quantities of fresh, produce, dairy products, canned items, bottled water and more.

This is a community that has always been in need–it is just even more so now.

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