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Mobile food market feeds community, lifts spirits

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SELMA— Food is a great conversation starter, and on May 14, volunteers at Temple Church handed off boxes of food while offering encouraging words to hungry Johnstonians.

The Raleigh-based Inter-Faith Food Shuttle had brought its Mobile Market to Selma, giving away unsold groceries that stores had donated before they expired.

“Mobile Markets serve the need of the community without putting people in a position to feel marginalized by their situation,” said Joann O’Neal, who works in outreach for the Food Shuttle. “Quite often, other assistance facilities require standing in lines, lots of paperwork and limited access. The hosts of our Mobile Markets provide the same kind of atmosphere you would find at any neighborhood farmers’ market, welcoming and friendly.”

In Selma last week, those welcoming and friendly hosts were members of Temple Church.

“We want the community to come, we want them to enjoy free food,” volunteer Kyler Parker said.

For last week’s 10 a.m. giveaway, cars began lining up in the Temple Church parking lot at 7:30 that morning, By the end, volunteers hand given away some 17,000 pounds of food to nearly 700 people, said Nancy House, who was among those handing out food.

The giveaway aims to help as many truly needed people as possible, House said. “It’s for Johnston County residents only that need it,” she said. “One box of food per household.”

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle brings the market to Selma on the second Thursday of every month, and Temple Church has been a host for 10 years, Parker said.

“Families are very grateful,” she said. “Anytime you can get free groceries, especially in a time like this, it helps even more.”

According to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, more than 9,000 children in Johnston County are at risk of hunger, and some 16,000 schoolchildren here receive free or reduced-price lunches. Overall, more than 22,000 Johnstonians are at risk of hunger, the Food Bank says.

In Johnston County, the Church at Clayton Crossings has also hosted Mobile Markets. For a list of Mobile Market dates and locations, go to foodshuttle.org/. To get involved with the markets, email Elizabeth Rodgers at Outreach@FoodShuttle.org.

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