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Feeding the hungry
Local churches pitch in at local food bank
5 Food Bank pic 1
The walls at the Unseen Hand Food Ministries, a food pantry that serves Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Cherokee counties, are lined with food, household items and baby diapers in preparation of the Oct. 11 distribution date. On average, the volunteer based ministry helps between 180 and 200 people each month. - photo by Photo/Michele Hester

Most of us don’t know what it’s like to be hungry or to stay awake at night wondering how to come up with the money to feed our children breakfast.



With gas prices the highest this nation has seen, many families know they must skimp on groceries if they are to have the money to buy gas to go to work.



Organizers and volunteers in northern Forsyth County have seen the number of people needing help grow since The Unseen Hand Food Ministries first opened a monthly food pantry last November.



“We just want people to know there is still hope in this dark world,” said Tim Smith, who started the ministry last year with his wife Tina.



Smith said the number of people needing assistance has grown since the ministry began. “It’s part because people are learning we’re here, but also the deeper into problems the economy goes, the more people are needing help,” he said.



The volunteer-based ministry, which serves Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Cherokee counties by providing food, household items and baby diapers, helps between 180 and 200 people each month.



“That’s a lot of people,” said Jake Brooks, a student at Dawson County’s Riverview Middle School and one of the ministries’ youngest volunteers.



Brooks is one of dozens of volunteers that take time from their busy schedules once a month to work at the food pantry.



Waiting patiently for a chance to help, Brooks picks up a box overflowing with canned goods, fruits, vegetables and bread and carries it out to an elderly woman’s car, telling her to watch her step as she crosses the street.



Unseen Hand Food Ministries is a collaboration of 56 churches in the Hightower Baptist Church Association.



“We have 56 churches in the Hightower Association, but we probably have close to 100 churches that help us out,” said Smith.



After what Tim Smith describes as a calling from the Lord to help the community through service, the Smiths contacted local churches in search of both help with the initiative and individuals in need of support. “We said, ‘Anyone you help, you send to us,’” Smith said.



Now almost a year later, the donations continue to roll in and the number of people needing assistance increases monthly. “What we need now is really more room,” said Smith.



The food pantry currently sits in a small, 900 square feet, one-room building that was once a grocery store on Bannister Road in northern Forsyth County.



There are nine acres adjacent to the food bank that Tim’s father, Joe K. Smith, said he is interested in purchasing to expand the operation.



Tim Smith said the need for additional space is a constant topic as the group prepares for the food distribution date each month. “We’re aggressively looking for more space, whether it’s here or down another avenue. We’ve got to find more space,” he said.



The next food distribution date will be Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.



E-mail Michele Hester at