After being open for four only days this year, the Glory House has given out more than 500 bags of food, feeding roughly 1,500 people in the county and nearby counties.
“It’s rare for it to look like this, but we’ve been exceptionally busy,” said Blake Seymour, manager at The Glory House’s Bread of Life Center pantry, as he pointed to bare shelves at the food pantry located on Chantilly Street.
A black trailer behind the building was full of donated supplies Thursday morning and the shelves were stocked, but that afternoon, they sat empty again. The food pantry is open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Currently, the food pantry is in need of food or monetary donations to meet the rising needs of the community. The pantry gives out one bag of food per month to anyone who presents a driver’s license and started in the basement of the Glory House serving about 40 people a month.
Now over the past seven years, the need has grown to serve people across seven counties.
“Ninety percent of the donations we get is through the community and churches and we do have a little bit that we get from Mississippi Food Network, but it’s very limited,” Seymour said. “Right now we need anything and everything — soup with the cold weather, canned vegetables, meat, spaghetti.”
Every day Seymour along with a volunteer staff prepare bags of food to help supplement families’ food monthly and helps community members get meals to feed their families. But recently, more people have come to the center seeking food.
“Every morning we have a daily devotional before we open, and we had a few people outside while we were doing this,” Seymour said. “By the time we opened the door at 10 a.m., we had a line wrapped around the building.”
Just Thursday, the Glory House gave out 160 bags of food — double its usual daily total. Last year the Glory House’s daily average was around 80 food bags per day. With the number of people utilizing the services, the Glory House is currently struggling to keep up with the demand. The newest wave of COVID and job layoffs have impacted the current increase in the pantry’s services, Seymour said.
“I thought it would slow down in December, but it’s just continued to rise,” he said. “The need is there, and over the past week, I’ve seen a lot of new people sign up for our services.”
Items most needed are non-perishable food items such as grits, oatmeal, Pop Tarts, cereal, pancake mix, canned soups and vegetables with pop tops, peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, rice, beans, pasta, Ramen, macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper meals and Jiffy Muffin Mix are all needed for the pantry.
A lot of that has come from outreach to those in need as a ministry effort but then it changed when the third-largest tornado in United States history hit Jones County to help with disaster relief. The Glory House Bread of Life Center pantry then moved to its current location at 506 Chantilly St. and has been giving out monthly food bags ever since.
“A lot of people have stated that they have medical issues and can’t work the full-time job they’ve held for several years or they live in a consolidated household where there are multiple generations living together,” Seymour said. “There’s also situations where people aren’t getting the same subsidies they once got or they just can’t make ends meet. Some people have full-time jobs and they just need this to feed their families.”
“People just need help,” Seymour said. “We are trying to not be just a food distribution center but a neighbor. The same way we are giving out as a neighbor, we receive as a neighbor.