It’s 7:15 AM on the 3rd Saturday of February, the temperature is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and I have just arrived at the Food Depot to help with distribution day. When I arrive, there is …
It’s 7:15 AM on the 3rd Saturday of February, the temperature is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and I have just arrived at the Food Depot to help with distribution day. When I arrive, there is already a line of maybe 150 or more cars stretching almost to the highway.
The night before some 30 volunteers, including a youth group from First Baptist Church of Iuka, met at 6 p.m. and packed more than 300 boxes of non-perishable food, such as canned goods, boxed cereal, and packaged edibles. By 8 a.m., about twenty Saturday volunteers, like me, will stage frozen meats and vegetables, fruit, household cleaning supplies, paper towels, and toilet paper across the back dock of the building, and “pushers” will put flats of the previously loaded boxes in place.
Out front, another group of volunteers will set up tables and tent awnings (when needed) in preparation for processing each car and determining how many boxes they are eligible to pick up. First-time registrants are asked to provide some proof of residence in the county and a copy of their income statement, and a washable color dot is applied to each windshield indicating the number of boxes to be loaded.
The actual distribution begins at 8 a.m. sharp and often continues beyond 10 a.m., and more than 300 boxes, plus all of the non-boxed items, will be distributed that day before the last car or truck passes through. Nobody has ever been turned away!
I’ve been volunteering at the Food Depot for more than 4 years now, but I’m pretty “new” compared to many of the other volunteers I see there each month. Some, like Sherman and Marie Pruitt, have been volunteering for 20 years. In fact, the Food Depot is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, according to Maxey B. South, another 20-year volunteer who is considered by all as the CEO & Chief Traffic Director of the Food Depot.
Maxey told me recently that the first distribution was held at Harmony Methodist Church, where they gave out about seven boxes of food the first time. The project soon outgrew Harmony and was moved to the old shoe factory until it burned. Then the Food Depot was moved again to its present location at 1701 Paul Edmondson Drive, off Industrial Drive in Iuka.
Presently, the Iuka Food Bank distributes an average of 320 units each month, which equals to about 8 tons or four tractor-trailer loads of food and supplies. Volunteer Tony Mobley, who does all of the ordering, said the Memphis Food Bank is our local supplier and the food and other items he orders are provided at cost by them.
The Iuka Food Depot is considered a 501C charitable organization, and it operates exclusively through financial contributions from various churches and businesses, as well as many individual donors. Again, all donations are considered tax deductible and a receipt for tax purposes will be issued if requested. The financial end of this charity is overseen by another volunteer, Sparks CPA Firm of Iuka.
When I asked Mr. South what the priorities were for 2023, he said, “Donations have never been more important than now to keep up with the rising food costs!”
He went on to say that new volunteers were always needed to help with the packing and distribution.
Packing always takes place 6-7 p.m. (or until the last box is loaded) the Friday before the 3rd Saturday, and distribution is always the morning of the 3rd Saturday from 8 – 10 a.m. (or until the last car in line picks up). All volunteers need to do is show up, and families are welcome, also.
Anyone interested in making a donation or wanting more information can contact Maxey B. South at 662-279-4184, and contributions can be mailed to the Food Depot at P.O. Box 36, Iuka, MS 38852.
“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”
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