Feeding families, sustaining communities

Published By: Russell Boone July 7, 2021

Terrence Wolfork, assistant administrator for communications, conferencing and technology, distributes food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box Program in Americus.

Cars lined around an entire city block and beyond in Americus, Georgia packed with people waiting to receive a food box distributed by Fort Valley State University’s Cooperative Extension Program. 
For two hours, the parking lot of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church served as the site for residents of southwest Georgia and other communities to pick up packages of groceries. More than 1,920 boxes of fresh produce and 500 gallons of milk made its way into the households of people seeking relief during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.  
The food giveaway is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farmers to Families Food Box program. It is also part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act funded by the USDA to purchase and disseminate agricultural products to people in need. 
Rev. KeAnthony Brooks, pastor of Bethesda, said the food giveaway program will help unify and assist residents in the area during the Coronavirus pandemic. “Some people have lost jobs and some don’t have income. This is an asset for those who are trying to figure out how to feed their families and a great partnership between Fort Valley State University’s College of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” the minister said. 
“I think this is a great program,” said Darryl Aldridge, a native of Ellaville. He said people receiving the groceries will really appreciate them due to the present state of the economy. “Fort Valley State is always trying to help the community by giving back. This is a great collaboration all the way around because people need help during these times,” Aldridge said. 
Johnnie Pool, assistant pastor of Bethesda who also works with a local food pantry, said the Bible talks about feeding people and he is pleased the USDA is making the food available. 
“This event goes far beyond Fort Valley State in our outreach efforts through Cooperative Extension,” said Dr. Mark Latimore Jr., FVSU’s associate dean for Extension. “When it comes to collaboration and partnerships, this is an example of how it works efficiently. We see a need to continue engaging in projects such as these to help people,” Latimore said. 
The FVSU associate dean acknowledged Willie Cooper, a local farmer for engaging FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program in this project during the development of his application. He also acknowledged Rev. Fer-Rell Malone Sr., of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Waycross for being the catalyst and making contact with USDA vendors assuring food delivery to people through churches and community organizations.  

FVSU was involved in the food giveaway through the Food Box Program from June to August of 2020. Overall, FVSU and partners distributed nearly 20,300 gallons of milk and 5,000 food boxes to residents throughout middle and south Georgia. 
For more information about the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, visit https://bit.ly/3f6tpDB.