Elmore County Food Pantry donation

Submitted / The Herald

Elmore County Food Pantry board member Gwen Turner, clockwise from top left, Mike Waters and volunteers Ty Ferrell and Karla Hall prepare to unload a delivery of hams donated

Helping in times of need is the reason why Elmore County Veterans Group (ECVG) was formed. The past few weeks, the group and the Elmore County NAACP provided needed assistance to those in the community which depends on the Elmore County Food Pantry.

What started as an idea to provide food and funding to the county food pantry turned into more than one person could have imagined.

Retired Air Force veteran Mike Waters had a chance encounter with a grocery manager of the commissary at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

“I visited the commissary where I met Evelyn Russell,” Waters said. “She turned out to be a godsend. She informed me that they had three pallets of food items in their warehouse.”

Those pallets of food were originally destined for the Montgomery Area Food Bank, but Russell told Waters the food bank stopped collecting food due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Ms. Russell told me that if I could provide transportation she would release the pallets to the Elmore County Food Pantry which I quickly did,” Waters said.

Food pantry director Kathy Hall said her initial thought when Waters pulled up with the first delivery was one of gratitude.

“My first thought was we are blessed — not only has he brought food, but he has also brought candy for the kids,” she said. “He’s been a blessing to us and the commissary has been amazing for sending the items to us. Everything they have sent has been able to go right back out to our clients.”

Speaking of clients, the food pantry historically has served around 600 families. Today, Hall said the number of families is higher.

“Right now, we are serving 700 clients due to the virus,” she said. 

Other items the commissary has sent includes 300 hams.

Hall said while the food pantry has to put more effort into storing cold items, they can quickly get the refrigerated items back out to families.

“We have to have storage space for that, but we are able to get those right back out the door,” she said. 

Hall said the veterans group also donated diapers.

“We ask our clients if they have small children and if they are in diapers, we try to take care of that,” Hall said.

While the future of the commissary donating direct to the food pantry is unknown, Hall said she’s thankful for the support and Waters’ efforts, no matter how long it may last.

“So far, he’s brought four truckloads from Maxwell,” she said. 

Hall said with a growing client list comes the need for additional support.

“Our biggest need is monetary,” she said. “I can turn that around and receive so much more (food) from monetary donations.”

She said if monetary donations are not possible, other immediate needs include cereal bars, baby food, formula and diapers.

“We are looking for those things that can assist those families more than just food,” she said. “And a lot of prayers.”

Waters said ECVG is an informal group of military veterans that was formed by Cecil Goodman to conduct outreach initiatives that supports veterans, their families and fellow citizens of Elmore County.