Staff with the Food Bank of the Albemarle unload more than 20,000 pounds of food for Ocracoke on Friday. Photo: C. Leinbach

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By Connie Leinbach

The Food Bank of the Albemarle on Friday brought food reinforcements for the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

Three trucks, including one refrigerator truck, unloaded more than 20,000 pounds of food into the pantry’s temporary location at the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department.

“We were almost out,” said Darlene Styron, vice-chair of the Ocracoke Interfaith Recovery & Relief Team, about the replenishment of the pantry.

The food bank brought enough food for 216 households, said Dawn Blowe, the agency relations government programs manager with the food bank. There are pre-packed boxes, called “three-day boxes,” and pallets of shelf-stable items such as canned goods, boxed milk, cereals, rice and produce.

Ivey Belch, chair of the OIRRT and pastor of Ocracoke Life Saving Church, ran the forklift to unload the trucks as several volunteers waited to repack the food into boxes for distribution to Ocracoke families.

The Bread of Life Food Pantry is a program of the Life Saving Church. As the Hurricane Dorian “fire mart” dwindled down in mid-November, the remaining food and supplies morphed into the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

Dorian damaged the freestanding pantry building at the church. Since then that building was repaired, received an addition, and is ready to go. Rita Hahn, a member of the church, said the shelving and food pantry items can be moved back to the pantry on Lighthouse Road.

A refrigerated truck brought chilled items, which Pastor Susie Fitch-Slater took to the United Methodist Church Rec hall kitchen for use by the Meals on Wheels program, and also for the food pantry.  

Ivey Belch, pastor of the Life Saving Church and chair of the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team, drives the forklift to unload donated food for Ocracoke. With him are Alicia Peel, OIRRT administrative assistant, and Trisha Davis, head caseworker. Photo: C. Leinbach

Blowe said the food bank left their refrigerated truck on the island for storage of the cold foods and that they will come back in mid-May with another order of food for the island.

She said the food comes from donations, the food bank purchases some and the Department of Agriculture.

The Albemarle Food Bank covers 15 counties and serves the senior center in Swan Quarter.

“We’ve been on the road a lot this week and every week, but we’re doing a lot of extra distributions just because we see needs in certain areas,” she said. “So, when we get that call, then we’re trying to figure out how to get the food and get it out there.”

The pantry is available to all Ocracoke residents via delivery, which is a temporary measure in order to promote social distancing in the wake of COVID-19.

A hamper delivery may be requested once a week per household. Hampers are delivered on Monday or Friday. Those who have already received hampers previously have been assigned a delivery day.

To participate in the program, please text Alicia Peel, OIRRT administrative assistant,

At 252-352-0522 or email each week to be added to that week’s delivery list, unless otherwise arranged. For details about the program, click here.

The two local churches can receive and distribute your assistance for both Dorian relief and COVID-19. Please send your check directly to either of the following:
Ocracoke Life Saving Church 
P.O. Box 68
Ocracoke, NC 27960

Ocracoke United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 278

Ocracoke, NC 27960

The Bread of Life Food Pantry has been located in the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department since mid-November. It will soon be back at the Life Saving Church on Lighthouse Road. Photo: C. Leinbach
Pallets of food are delivered to the OVFD. Pastor Susie Fitch-Slater is at center and her husband, Tom Slater, is at left. Photo: C. Leinbach

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