Full of Care
Eight organizations working to combat hunger needs in Middle Georgia
By Ian Williams
Photography by Jave Bjorkman
Whether you’ve called yourself a Maconite from birth or were adopted into the Macon community later, this home holds a special place for all of us. And while Macon has the marks of a healthy and thriving community, we do have our share of problems.
Steady access to readily available food is something many of us take for granted. It seems as though the grocery store is just a short drive away, and it always has fresh fruits and vegetables.
However, this is not case for everyone living in Middle Georgia. Pockets of Macon, particularly low-income neighborhoods, suffer from being located in what is termed a “food desert,” or an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
This is no small problem; county health rankings estimate that 23 percent of people in Macon-Bibb County are food-insecure. And while getting healthy food is a problem entirely unto itself, some lack the access to steady meals at all.
Macon is home to many organizations that aim to help our hungry neighbors. And these organizations need your help. Read on to find out how you can connect with local groups aiding hunger needs.
Serving millions of pounds The Middle Georgia Community Food Bank operates not by giving food directly to those in need, but by serving nonprofits and organizations across 24 counties in Middle Georgia, who then serve smaller communities.
Essentially, the Food Bank’s role is to resource millions of pounds of food every year, store it correctly and distribute it to nonprofits. You can help by volunteering directly – there are opportunities to volunteer Monday-Friday – or by organizing your own food drive. Details are available at mgcfb.org/donate-food to ensure you run an effective food drive.
Food and more Loaves and Fishes is a nonprofit designed to help people get back on their feet. They don’t aim to just feed those who are in need of a warm meal, but they also offer showers, clothes and laundry facilities.
They receive their food from a variety of sources – including the Food Bank, community and individual food drives. To help, consider making a financial donation. Monetary donations go to support building repairs or to purchase products that are less frequently donated, such as shampoo or laundry detergent. Learn more at loavesandfishesministry.org/donate.
Your donations, better directed In short, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia is a composite fund made up of many individual charitable donations run by a board of private residents who carefully and intentionally donate to various causes.
Thus, the Community Foundation directs a coordinated effort for Middle Georgia by drawing on individual charitable funds. Nonprofits can apply for grants from the Community Foundation to receive resources. The foundation is responsible for providing funding to many organizations around Macon who help deliver food to those in need such as Daybreak, Macon Outreach, Loaves and Fishes, and the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank. Find out how you can help at cfcga.org.
More than 1,500 daily meals Macon Outreach touches the lives of many in our community. Their downtown location at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church enables many who are homeless and jobless to find a source of stability. Alongside their meal service, Macon Outreach delivered groceries to more than 7,000 people in Macon-Bibb County in 2017 and helped 1,000 families receive clothing. To help, consider volunteering to serve lunch or breakfast, register clients and even to “give a hug,” according to their website, maconoutreach.com/needs.
Meals, delivered Meals on Wheels has been delivering warm, nutritious food to older and disabled individuals since 1974. More than just food, they offer friendship, comfort, and hope to those who are unable to leave their home without aid. Meals on Wheels aims to help the elderly remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. To help, volunteer your time to deliver food and visit with their clients or make a donation at mealsonwheelsmidga.com/donations.
Shelter and supper Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia has provided residential shelter and meals for our community since 1952. The Rescue Mission has developed a permanent bond with the Middle Georgia community. Inspired by a police officer’s personal goal of interrupting the cycle of poverty and imprisonment, the Rescue Mission wants to give people a chance to take their lives back.
The mission has been so successful in serving those in need that they moved into a 20,000-square-foot facility downtown and changed their name from Macon Rescue Mission to Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia to reflect the fact that they serve 17 counties adjacent to Macon-Bibb. Learn more about this faith-based organization at rescuemissionga.com.
Daytime shelter that serves Daybreak was created in response to homeless shelters’ policies to only provide housing at night. Founded in 2012 by Sister Theresa Sullivan, Daybreak provides a warm breakfast, a place to relax during the day and resources such as computers, laundry services, showers, a medical clinic, and case managers to help people move from a life of homelessness to one of hope.
Daybreak is a project of DePaul USA, an international organization that helps individuals who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged. Learn more about the work being done across the globe and how you can help here in Macon by following the links from us.depaulcharity.org.
Meal connections The vast resources of United Way help Middle Georgia in a plethora of ways, ranging from literacy and veteran readjustment programs to free tax preparation and breast cancer screenings. They also play a major role in getting food to families who need it most. United Way connects people to local food pantries and delivers food directly to seniors and people with disabilities. To see a list of nonprofits and partner agencies supported by United Way of Central Georgia, visit unitedwaycg.org.
From Daybreak to sundown
Join Daybreak and members of the local community at the 6th annual Macon Sleepout on Feb. 28. On this night, participants sleep outside to show solidarity with the homeless and raise funds to support Daybreak. For more information, call 478-216-9119. To register or donate, visit Maconsleepout.com.