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Church helps fight food insecurity

Recognizing the needs of those in the community Antioch Baptist Church in Red Oak has begun a food pantry.

“We realize that the pandemic has left many folks facing tough times, and we want to support our community by meeting not only spiritual needs but physical ones as well,” Church member Kristen White said.

Located at 6700 Barnesville Highway, the pantry is stocked with non-perishables that those in need can find in the outdoor cabinet located on the south side of the church building.

“As there are no official hours of operation, people may come at their convenience to get some non-perishable food and a note of encouragement,” White said.

According to White, one of the children at the church came up with the food pantry idea.

“One of the children has a heart for serving others and mentioned that food would be a great way to reach out,” White said. “As a result, the pantry was purchased, members have donated food, and the children from our Vacation Bible School in August made notes of encouragement for folks to take with some food.”

In 2018, there were 842,870 food-insecure Virginians, according to Feeding America’s interactive data map.

That is a rate of 9.9%. Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 has devastatingly impacted food security in Virginia. Early research from the Northwestern Institute for Policy Research estimated that Virginia’s food insecurity rose 12.5 percentage points to 22.5% (or more than one in five people) during the April-May 2020 timeframe.

The Virginia SNAP-Ed Food Security Survey found that 58% of households reported they did not have money to buy enough food, and children in 29% of households were not eating enough as a result.