Cooperation Helps Elba Food Bank Serve Thousands
Elba is a community made up of people from all walks of life: self-made entrepreneurs, those who put in long hours in the Kelley Foods plant, school employees working year round to teach and nurture children, stay-at-home moms, retired professionals, and the leaders of churches who form the Elba Ministerial Alliance.
The Ministerial Alliance was formed many years ago and exists to serve people of Elba and surrounding towns. Philip Box, minister at Elba Church of Christ and current president of the Ministerial Alliance, joined in 2006 and began to facilitate the discussion of how best to serve people.
“Lots of churches had small food banks or clothes closets,” he says, “but we envisioned one place where people could get all their needs met.” This eventually led to the start of the Elba Community Food Bank.
The Food Bank, headquartered at the Elba Church of Christ just outside the city’s downtown hub, is open every Thursday morning. Food for the ministry is bought from the Dothan Food Bank at 16 cents per pound. Local grocery stores also donate and allow the Alliance to purchase food at store cost.
Members of the community regularly donate food, money and time to the food bank. The Alliance member churches host can food drives, fundraisers, and help recruit volunteers. Even the U.S. Postal service helps support this collaboration by donating the cans collected at its annual Stamp Out Hunger event.
People from all over Elba and the surrounding areas come together to provide for those in need in what Box calls “certainly a community effort.”
Most recently, Elba non-profit Restoration 154 has started a project to further contribute to this collaboration. The Giving Garden, a project that is a great collaboration in itself, provides fresh vegetables, herbs, and other produce to the food bank.
On land donated by the city of Elba, volunteers from the community planted seeds donated by local businesses and civic organizations, like the Lions Club, which have yielded this year’s first Giving Garden crops.
This summer, the food bank is overflowing Thursday mornings with fresh, colorful vegetables, allowing the Community Food Bank to supplement its dry and nonperishable stock with healthy options, often not available to low income or struggling populations.
Each person who comes to the Food Bank is checked into a system and given a box with dry foods like cereals, crackers, and bread products, canned vegetables and meats, fresh bread and vegetables, dairy products, frozen meats, and hygiene products.
In 2014, the Elba Community Food Bank served 3,293 people. As of May 14, it has served 1,501 people, distributing more than 20,000 pounds of food in 2015. At this rate, the Food Bank should far surpass its goal of serving 4,000 people for the year.
The members of the Ministerial Alliance include: Assembly of God, Basin Baptist Church, Covenant Community Church, Elba Church of Christ, Elba Church of God, Elba United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Greater New Zion Baptist Church, Harris Temple, New Philadelphia Church of God in Christ, Westside Baptist Church, and Ham Chapel United Methodist Church.
The members and leaders of these churches, along with several other individual and civic groups, come together to exemplify community by providing for those in need.