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Food Bank celebrates supporters, sets new goals

 cphelps@gainesvilletimes.com

    Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, said Saturday night’s first-ever celebration of the organization’s new Harvester Club wasn’t a challenge issued but an invitation to the community to help feed more people in the coming year.

The event took place at the food bank warehouse, and celebrated members who had donated more than $1,000 over the past year.

Anyone who reaches the $1,000 goal over the next year will be the newest members of the club.

“This drives every single one of us,” Blackstock said. “This isn’t easy work. It’s a very complicated business. By having people down here at the food bank, they get to see the size and the scope of what we’re doing.

“Tonight, we had a meal together in the warehouse, but on Monday morning, we have a tractor trailer on the road (delivering food).”

The food bank serves five North Georgia counties: Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin and Union. They are partners with 58 agencies throughout the area who help provide food for those in need.

According to Blackstock, it is the second-fasting growing food bank of its size within the Feeding America Network.

She also said it wants to debunk the myth that only a certain group of people can go hungry.
“The faces of hunger aren’t just the homeless or drug addicts,” she said. “One in 10 people are at-risk of being food-insecure. It doesn’t mean you’re poor, or you don’t work, but something tragic could happen like a divorce or a medical need.

“Scary situations and hard times wear a lot of different faces.”

Jim Mathis Jr., president of the North Georgia Community Foundation, said, “This is a good way to reach out and put together the funds that are needed to support the food bank. It’s an opportunity and a challenge. Even though we’re the second-fastest growing place of this size, there’s still more we can be doing.”

Blackstock said the goal for next year is to close the meal gap, which is at 7.5 million meals. In 2013, the bank distributed 2.2 million meals.

She also said there is no ceiling and limit to how much of an impact the food bank can make on the community

“Look around at this facility. ... Who would have ever thought in a collapsing economy that a grass-roots, nonprofit (organization) would have been able to survive, much less be operating in a fully-paid for facility and doing doubled what we ever dreamed of doing,” Blackstock said.