This spring and summer, along with the closure of many schools and businesses, COVID-19 forced many food pantries in Marietta to temporarily shut down because they use school facilities. The Marietta Food Pantry, however, remained open because it was separate from school.
The pantry is located behind the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy off of Aviation Road in an old classroom. The combination of food distribution closures and COVID created an incredible demand for food in the Marietta community.
For the past three months, what was before a once-a-month operation turned into a weekly distribution of food. Previously, about 30 families waited in line in front of the pantry on the second Wednesday of the month to pick out a variety of food, hygiene and cleaning supplies. Over the summer, however, the distribution has taken place every week. Volunteers handed out meat, a box of canned goods, fresh fruit and vegetable boxes, gallons of milk, and meals from Second Helpings Atlanta for the past 10 weeks.
“We used to serve around 200 people a month,” said Dr. Anna Longacre, one of the head volunteer coordinators of the pantry. “Now, we serve around 1,200 people a week.”
Longacre, along with Leigh Kelley, the other head volunteer coordinator, run the entire operation. The women assign volunteer groups from various Marietta community organizations and oversee everything that goes on regarding the Marietta Food Pantry. That’s on top of parenting their own children, who attend The Walker School.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding” Kelley said.
Because both women work, Walker students junior Sarah McMurry and senior Alyssa Anderson stay busy organizing, handling supplies and managing volunteers at the pantry about 20 hours a week.
“Mondays the Atlanta Community Food Bank drops off around 10 1,000-pound pallets of food,” Anderson said. “On Tuesdays, Sarah, myself, and volunteers package 35-pound boxes of canned goods. Wednesdays are the distribution days from 5 to 7 p.m., and Thursdays Mrs. Kelley, Dr. Anna, Sarah, and I video call to reflect on the week.”
In addition to their time given at the pantry, both young women have taken their volunteer efforts a step further. McMurry, president of Feed Marietta, created a non-profit organization to fill in the financial need of the Marietta Food Pantry.
“Each week is a surprise when it comes to what food we’ll get,” McMurry said. “Feed Marietta funds any gaps there may be. One week we need meat, and the next it’s diapers.”
While McMurry takes care of the financial side, Anderson focuses on marketing. She created social media accounts for Feed Marietta and is currently in the process of building a website for the new non-profit.
Other Walker students have also contributed to the Marietta Food Pantry in various ways. Seniors Merrill Hart and Charlie Rossitch have both pursued their own projects with support from Feed Marietta to benefit the families of the pantry. Hart, who has a passion for reading, ran a literacy drive one distribution night, giving out hundreds of books to children who wait in the hour-long food line. Rossitch, who sees a future in dentistry, focused on a hygiene drive, handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste to families another Wednesday evening.
Seniors Mattie Garrett and Chapman Clarke also donate hours of their time and their trucks each Wednesday to hand out meals from Second Helpings Atlanta, another organization that donates hundreds of meals to the Marietta Food Pantry.
These are just a few of the many incredibly inspiring and hardworking students who have donated their time to aid their community’s food needs. Whether it be through a food donation, unloading huge food-filled semi-trucks, building boxes, and more, Walker students have shown their support in a time where it has been most needed.
The Walker community can support the Marietta Food Pantry by donating money to @feedmarietta on Venmo. For more information and immediate updates, Feed Marietta is also on Facebook
, and Instagram