New Hope Pantry in need of refrigerator truck to help serve hundreds

Updated: Jan. 23, 2021 at 5:35 AM EST
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PROVIDENCE FORGE, Va. (WWBT) - A New Kent County food pantry which brings hope and food to the community is now facing a challenge.

The managers of New Hope Pantry say the engine on their 24-foot refrigerator truck is dead, leaving them in a difficult spot.

However, despite the blown engine, it has not stopped the non-profit from serving its community and beyond, handing out food to more than 800 people each week.

The organization has grown over the years. In 2017, all they had was a 12-foot refrigerator truck. NBC12 caught up with the group at that time as they needed a new refrigerator unit for the truck.

That truck is still in service today, but now they have freezer trailers to house certain foods that are delivered as well as picked up. However, picking up has been a challenge recently.

“After three weeks at three shops, we find out the engine is blown,” said Kelli Lieder, the pantry manager.

On average, the group picks up food from seven to eight stores daily, not including deliveries from non-profits like Feed More on Fridays.

While a 24-foot truck is being rented at a decent price to get around, the Lieders are not sure how much longer that can continue.

“When that money runs out, which will be soon, we have to stop our pickups, we have to stop the distribution because we have no way to keep the food safe,” Lieder said.

Stopping operations would cause severe impacts on hundreds of families.

“They come from quite some distance,” Lieder said. “They know that it’s worth their drive to come. When they need food they go where they can go to get it.”

“The people in need, that’s going to stay the same, but the need is going to rise in 2021 we believe,” said Neil Lieder, pastor of New Hope Church.

The non-profit has started a GoFundMe fundraiser to gather money in order to buy a used refrigerator truck.

“For $35,000 we think we can get something that is comparable to the size and needs that we have,” Lieder said. “Brand new would be wonderful, but we’ll take whatever people are willing to give.”

It is support from the community that makes this operation possible, but it goes beyond delivering food.

“People are struggling right now,” Lieder said. “They need a kind word, they need a word of encouragement, they need hope. That’s why we’re here, we’re New Hope Pantry and that’s what we offer.”

The non-profit said they have had to adjust food distribution because of the pandemic. Instead of a “free shop,” where people come into the tent and shop like in a grocery store, families now remain in their vehicles.

“We usually have seven to eight rows of cars in our parking lot,” Lieder said. “We serve them car to car… we fill out menus for them.”

Pantry hours are Tuesdays from 4-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m. at the location in Providence Forge (6475 Parrish Road).

The non-profit is also seeking more volunteers to help with these efforts.

For more information on how to help the organization in its search for a truck, click here.

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