Food pantry faced with closure

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A local food pantry is faced with being kicked out of a building, and those who are in need of food may be left hungry.

Community Resource Services (CRS), a not-for-profit founded in 2000, provides a food pantry and other services for Lunenburg County, Nottoway County and other neighboring counties currently utilize The Peoples Community Center (TPCC).

For CRS, TPCC in Victoria has been their weekly distribution and food storage site since the beginning; however, that could be coming to an end as soon as March 23.

CRS executive director Donna Dagner explained that the community center will now use the area where the organization houses coolers, freezers, food pantry equipment, and a room that houses tables.

According to Dagner, a new board member of the community center noted, last year that “the food bank needs to find their own building.”

“About 18 months ago, the TPCC Board decided they wanted to use the room that housed the tables for a dressing room,” Dagner said. “ At our quarterly meeting, a request was made to move the tables to the backroom designated for the food pantry. I agreed to make it happen within the next 30 days… It was done.

Dagner continued explaining that the Board decided that the 250 chairs that have always been around the wall also needed to move into the backroom.

“I explained that this posed a problem because the food pantry participates in a direct store program through Feedmore,” she added. “This means that food is donated and picked up daily from Food Lion, Walmart and Dollar General for the food pantry. 90% of the food picked up has to be either refrigerated or frozen. So we needed ready access to the four freezers and two commercial coolers on a daily basis. This is not possible.”

According to Dagner, at the September 2022 board meeting of TPCC, Dagner was notified that the food pantry would need to leave the building by the end of the year.

“The issue here is the newer board members were not aware of the origin and history of the food pantry,” Dagner said.

According to Dagner, the newer board members were of the belief that this was “Donna’s Food Pantry” and she needed to find another building, whereas this was the TPCC Food Pantry, where Dagner served as the Director.

It was in 2001 when the TPCC Board of Directors agreed to sponsor, house, store, and support a Food Pantry to provide a service to the community. That’s when the name TPCC Food Pantry originated.

“As a member of the TPCC Board, I did the research, and my mom (also a TPCC Board member) and I made the contacts, attended the mandatory training classes and enlisted the help of volunteers,” Dagner said. “Within the next couple of years, the Board decided to add an additional portion to the building to house the coolers, freezers and food pantry equipment.

Dagner said she believes that the new TPCC board members were unaware that the addition to the building was for the food pantry.

According to Dagner, the food pantry was reorganized as a separate entity to avoid shutting down. In September 2022, the new entity (CRS) was granted 501c3 status.

To date, the TPCC Board has decided to give CRS an extension of March 23. “We have been working with the Victoria Town Manager Rodney Newton and Lisa Novak of Unity Realty to find another building, with no success,” Dagner said.

Dagner said CRS has been and is currently sponsoring monthly fundraisers.

“We have been offered a piece of land and have raised enough to buy this piece of land.,” Dagner said, “The plan is to place a steel building on this land. We have mailed out letters to 67 churches in Lunenburg and Nottoway counties and 107 letters to local businesses asking for sponsorship. We are feverishly and constantly submitting applications for grants and monies from Foundations.”

Danger said she plans to ask the TPCC Board for another extension.

“If they agree, CRS will stay open. If they decide not to extend, the CRS Food Pantry will close until the funds are available to reopen,” she said. “Unfortunately, we will lose our contracts with our Direct Stores.”

In 2022 the CRS food pantry fed 17,000 people and distributed 42,000+ pounds of food, with 90% of those being senior citizens.