First Baptist in Newnan to host mobile food pantry

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL First Baptist Church of Newnan will be hosting a "mobile food pantry" event on Friday. Food will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis at the church -- in the first of at least four events. The food will be provided by the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Vehicles will be lined up at the church, and everyone will be given a number. Then the food will be distributed based on the numbers until it runs out. "People don't even need to get out of their cars," said Mike Emeott, executive pastor at First Baptist. Church volunteers will sort and bag the food once it arrives. Since this will be the first event, no one is sure how long the sorting will take. "An abundance of patience would be appreciated... just until we know what we are doing," Emeott said. "We really don't know how long that will take or what the products will be. We're having to learn how to do it." Organizers will start lining people up along Madison Street behind the church. That section of Madison will be closed to through-traffic during the event. Then they'll use the top parking lot, Emeott said. Volunteers in orange vests will be located around the church to help direct people. Motorists traveling through downtown may want to avoid the area around First Baptist because of possible traffic disruptions. "I have already given the police department a heads-up," Emeott said. Emeott said they won't know what kind of food they'll have to give out until it arrives. But there should be approximately 10,000 pounds of food, and each family will get "between 35 and 60 pounds of food, depending on what they bring and what the variety is," he said. The truck is supposed to arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 10. The event technically begins at 10 a.m. It might take some time for all the sorting and packing to be done. "There may be a waiting period," Emeott said. He expects all the food to be handed out by noon. "We're excited, but we don't really know everything about the logistics of it yet," Emeott said. There is no screening process and no requirements to receive the food, Emeott said. People will just need to give their name, address, and county of residence. You don't have to live in Coweta, Emeott said. "They just like to know where people come from." Emeott recently attended a mobile food pantry event in Bremen. "They've been doing it for over two years," he said. On the day he went, "they had more cars lined up at 8:30 than they had food for. They didn't stop distributing until almost 11." The food given out included "fresh produce, as well as boxed cookies and crackers and bread," and some fresh sandwiches. "I didn't see any canned food, per se," Emeott said. The Atlanta Community Food Bank sometimes receives donations of food "that is perishable. They have to get rid of it pretty quickly. This is why they started doing these mobile food pantries." First Baptist has committed to hosting the mobile food pantries the first Fridays in February, March and April as well. After that, the event may continue, but that hasn't been determined. The mobile food pantry event is in addition to First Baptist's ongoing AO food ministry. The "AO" ministry has food available at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday. The food comes through both the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There is a screening process to receive that food. "First Baptist has had that food pantry operation for probably 15 years," Emeott said. "It started out one day a week, then two, and three, and last year we opened up to four days a week." For more information, contact First Baptist Church Newnan at 770-253-0797.

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