The We Care Food Bank located in the Ashley Chapel Community off Mizpah Road in Rockingham has closed its doors.
Its lease ran out in October and the chance to renew that lease was not extended to the volunteer organization, according to its director, Paulette Ingram.
The food bank started in the community in a little rent free house in 2008. It grew rapidly, said Ingram. After being there two years the landlord decided to rent the house and the food bank had to move. Fortunately, not far up the street was a vacancy in the basement of the Ashley Chapel Community Center. It was rented under the leadership of Bishop T.R. “Johnny” Harrington, Chairman of the We Can Food Bank Pantry. Harrington also resides in the same area.
“Harrington has started five food banks, four in Richmond County located in Hamlet, Wolf Pit, St. Stephens and Ashley Chapel which has now closed, and one in Moore County in Jackson Hamlet,” said Ingram. “The We Care Food Bank has served many families. There were low-income, no-income elderly on a fixed budget, disabled, single moms with as many as 13 children in the household, no jobs or had been laid off. One lady lost her job and had to rely on the food bank for food.
“She had no income, no unemployment or food stamps, so she was introduced to the food bank. She was so thankful because the food bank became an important part of her family. Another single mom was given a gallon of mustard due to an illness with one of her seven children,” said Ingram.
For four years in the Ashley Chapel Community Center, the food bank opened and served the public each Thursday of the week. It was also opened for families during non-operating hours in emergency situations. The food bank also had referrals from the Department of Social Services and other agencies.
As of Oct. 2, the lease expired for the food bank and no renewal option was afforded to the organization, according to Ingram. She said those responsible for the Ashley Chapel Community Center decided the basement could no longer be used to feed the hungry. And so, at that time, the food bank was forced to close, Ingram said.
Before the closure, the We Care Food Bank Pantry was serving hundreds of households a week, she said.
“Phone calls are being constantly made wanting to know what happened to the food bank, why it closed and when will it reopen?” said Ingram. “Many of the recipients are worried it will not reopen, being that it was a great subsidy to their household and extremely important for their family. The We Care Food Bank Pantry was supplied through the N.C. Central Food Bank of the Carolinas in Raleigh, local food bank of Southern Pines and the local Food Lion store in Rockingham. The food bank is a non-profit organization with volunteer workers.
“We are looking forward to opening again as soon as a place can be found. Harrington is in desperate need of a building. If there is anyone who knows of a place that is reasonable with the rent or has a place to rent or just would like to donate a building for this cause, please contact Bishop T.R. Harrington, Chairman, at 910-895-2153 or 910-419-4271 or Paulette Ingram, director, at 910-817-9466,” said Ingram.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.