FACES launches fundraiser; Food pantry seeks to raise $50-60K

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Farmville Area Community Emergency Services (FACES) Food Pantry has launched its annual fundraising drive in an effort to continue to feed the residents of the area who need it most. According to FACES Board Chairman Dr. Ellery Sedgwick, the organization is looking to raise $50,000-$60,000.

“We’re almost entirely reliant on local funds,” Sedgwick said, “and really, I think it’s extraordinary that a town of this size or an area of this size can support an operation like this. But they do.”

The fundraiser, which included mailings and inserts in The Herald, serves as FACES’ largest revenue source.

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According to FACES, in fiscal year 2015-16, the organization, which distributes food every Saturday morning, handed out more than 1 million pounds, or 508 tons, of food — the equivalent of 846,666 meals.

“Distributions were made weekly to an average of over 740 carefully screened local families that included more than (1,700) individual members,” Sedgwick said in a letter to the community, adding, “We figured that we can add, if you pick up regularly, we save clients about $2,250 (annually) … And if you multiply that times the average number of families that are picking up, this year you get a figure of something like $1.6 million. Last year it was $2 million.”

Last year, FACES’ backpack program provided more than 8,640 weekend meals to children identified by school staff.

“Our whole budget is about $75,000-$80,000. And, of that, we figure on getting … the majority of that will come from this fundraising drive,” Sedgwick said.

FACES, which services clients who have zip codes shared by Prince Edward County, is made up of volunteers; no paid staff are part of the organization.

According to FACES, each dollar donated results in the buying, storing and delivering of more than 10 pounds of food; $100 delivers more than 1,000 pounds.

“It’s really an exceptionally large and effective organization for a town of this size for this area,” Sedgwick said. “It is one of the largest food pantries in Virginia.”

During the weekly distribution, held at FACES’ 416 N. South St. location in Farmville, recipients pickup an average of 25-30 pounds of food per week.

“If you think about Prince Edward County … I believe it has a 19 percent poverty level,” Sedgwick said. “And that means that about 3,800 of those people live at or below the poverty line. And we reach fewer than … 50 percent.”

He said FACES “still has a lot of work to do.”

He noted FACES is part of FeedMore, formerly known as the Central Virginia Food Bank.

“Their strategic plan is to increase food distribution in rural areas,” he said. “They have identified us as the largest agency in the most underserved area. And that area … is now eight counties. We’ve been trying to beef up distribution in Cumberland and Charlotte, and we’ve opened a distribution point down on County Line Road. And that does a great deal of distribution in Charlotte.”

He said the Charlotte location serves about 250 families per week.

“Surplus food is becoming scarcer and more expensive and FACES’ ability to sustain its food distribution programs and extend them to more people in need is directly dependent on your support now,” Sedgwick said in the letter.

FACES Treasurer Bob Chonko said the organization couldn’t accomplish its goals without the many donations of money and food, large and small, it receives.

“It is truly amazing how much leverage — how FACES can stretch $1 to obtain food obtained from our local stores, businesses, the Central Virginia Food Bank, local organizations, the colleges and schools and our neighbors,” Chonko said. “Few charitable sources can match what FACES achieves with the support we receive and the hundreds of volunteers who contribute their time.”

To donate, visit www.facesfoodpantry.com/ and select the yellow “Donate” button at the top right of the page. For more information, call (434) 392-6277, email facesfarmville@gmail.com or write FACES, P.O. Box 644, Farmville, VA 23901.