VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - With so many people still out of work because of the pandemic, a determined group of volunteers is helping dozens of families put food on the table every single week.
Every Saturday, several volunteers with The Chapel Pantry, which is part of Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach, run a drive-thru food pantry to help those in need.
Car after car, family after family, wait in line for up two hours at times for milk, meat, eggs, non-perishable items and much more.
Rev. Eva Stallings of Virginia Beach has been through the line two other times before picking up food for herself and others in her community.
“This has truly been a blessing,” Stallings said.
She said she hasn’t been able to go back to her job as a sewing teacher, and after the extra federal aid for unemployment benefits stopped, she was struggling to make ends meet.
“My money has gotten short; I’m not working as much as I used to,” said Stallings. “It hurts. It doesn’t hurt me because of the fact that who I am with Christ and I know He said He would supply our every needs.”
The Chapel Pantry is answering the call.
“We are called to feed people,” said The Chapel Pantry Director Kay O’Reilly. “Jesus said feed the hungry and that is why we are here.”
Helping their neighbors in need is nothing new for the 331-year-old church.
“I think it’s just the goodness of people,” O’Reilly said. “They know when there is a time to help others.”
Volunteers turned the decades-old walk-in food pantry into a drive-thru pantry at the start of the COVID crisis. So far this year they’ve helped more than 30,000 people, which is about 8,500 families.
“It is a labor of love,” said O’Reilly. “I’m amazed myself that volunteers come back week after week, month after month to help.”
The need for help grows every Saturday. The Chapel Pantry went from serving about 200 families in April to now 300 families.
On Saturday, The Chapel Pantry hit a record high, helping to feed nearly 400 families in just three and a half hours.
People like Rev. Eva Stallings are grateful.
“I thank God for what you all are doing,” she said. “It’s a big help to the community.”