• 55°

Outreach to open expanded food pantry

Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry will formally dedicate its new pantry expansion in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 12:15 p.m.

An open house will be held during the afternoon until 4 p.m.

“Thanks to a generous $50,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF), this additional 1,080-square-foot building is allowing Outreach to increase its capacity to meet the growing demands of our community,” said Joe Epley, president of the Outreach board of directors. “Without the generosity of this community, Outreach could not succeed in its mission of helping families in need.”

In addition to the expansion funding from PCCF, Timken Corporation provided a grant for new shelving for pantry operations and improvements to the parking lot.

“This expansion did not come too soon,” said executive director Carol Newton. “Already in the first seven months of this year, the demand for help has increased 29 percent over the same period as last year. In addition, we are providing more than 325 Polk County school children with nutritional meals every weekend through our ‘Feed a Kid’ program. That number will increase this school year.”

The new space, and improvements to the old pantry space, has relieved congested working conditions, provided more adequate space to stock up on food and allowed Outreach to provide double the annual amount of everyday necessities not covered by clients’ food stamps, Newton said.

Past president Connie Lomax, who chairs Outreach’s building and grounds committee, said, “We have been bursting at the seams with more than four programs operating out of our pantry. The newest one started in 2011 when we began participating in a new program for nonprofits through the Spartanburg, SC Wal-Mart Distribution Center when the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Outreach Committee funded Outreach’s membership. Through this program, Outreach dispensed an additional $50,000 in vital supplies to our eligible clients last year. We could have done more, but just didn’t have the space to put items. Thanks to the Polk County Community Foundation, now we can.

“With the additional space, our Polk County residents in need can receive an estimated annual increase of more than $43,000 in necessary household and personal care items. This equals a direct annual savings of more than $43,000 for our clients who will not need to use their limited resources to acquire these goods.”

Not only does Outreach now have more space, but also a more energy efficient building, Lomax added.

MANNA FoodBank, which provides most of the food received by Outreach, provided an additional $5,000 refrigeration unit to supplement the existing refrigeration.

Brady Trakas Architects of Tryon designed the expansion and Don Kurant was the general contractor who built the addition and renovated the existing pantry space. The electrical contractor was Lake Lure Electric. Heating and cooling was provided by All Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning.

“We can’t praise Dean Trakas and Don Kurant enough for the quality workmanship and for going the extra mile with special attention to getting the maximum usefulness for our investment,” said Newton.

Outreach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1991. The organization’s mission is to provide compassionate assistance to Polk County residents who are unable to provide for their basic life needs. For more information, visit www.tboutreach.org or call 828-894-2988.

– article submitted

by Wendy Thomas