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Cumberland food pantry to be renovated

Cumberland Community Cares (CCC) at Delma’s Food Pantry is receiving some much needed updates to its facility as a result of CARES Act funding allocated by the county, allowing for smoother and bigger operations for the organization.

Don Unmussig

CCC and its volunteers, according to Cumberland County Administrator Don Unmussig, have been working for a long time with inadequate space and equipment to support the residents they serve.

Unmussig said the building CCC operates out of is not designed for a food pantry, meaning volunteers move food numerous times between receiving the items and distribution dates.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began heavily affecting the county back in March, he said, the number of families CCC was helping nearly tripled. Food storage became an issue, and volunteers were having to move food three to four times once supplies were offloaded from a delivery truck as there was not adequate space to sort deliveries and put together packages for distribution.

When CARES Act funds were made available to the county, Unmussig said he contacted state officials and discussed the idea of renovating the food pantry building in order to convert it into a facility that could better support CCC’s services. After receiving confirmation this would be an adequate expense for CARES funds use, the building was assessed, specifications were developed and a bid was solicited.

Tuesday night, Aug. 11, the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to award the work to renovate the building to Collins Clearing and Grading.

Unmussig said in addition to building renovations, the county is going to assist in the purchase of an electric powered pallet jack and a portable roller system to help volunteers change to a more streamlined, efficient and less physically demanding method of operation.

He added the final cost for the project is not expected to exceed $75,000.

CCC President Doris Seal, who worked with Unmussig and the county regarding the plan to provide upgrades to the food pantry, said the board’s decision to allocate CARES funds to remodel the building is a reminder that the Cumberland Community does care indeed. She said the remodeling will have a large impact on the way CCC physically operates when receiving, storing and distributing food to residents.

In all of 2019, Seal said, CCC handled 80,000 pounds of food. From January through May of 2020, that number surged to 190,000 pounds, all which came through a single door in the building to store and bag and was then transported out of the building to distribute using a wagon train of old grocery carts and utility wagons wielded by a legion of dedicated volunteers.

“For the past almost three years, it has been a joy to grow a team of volunteers that truly care,” Seal said. “We are a diverse group that has provided thousands of hours of time, effort and fun to successfully maintain five different programs to assist with the food insecurity in Cumberland County.

“Feed More has blessed our organization and has provided tremendous resources and programs that we have implemented. They make it all possible. Our ‘survival’ also is dependent on our network of volunteers, organizations and donors who provide support financially, spiritually and physically. Donations of any size large or small, of time, kind words or money are always appreciated. Thank you to the Cumberland Community for caring.”

“I just wish we could have gotten this done sooner,” Unmussig said.  “We expect the work to be completed by the end of September, and believe that Mrs. Seal and her volunteers will be in a far better position to effectively serve the families that need them.”

Those interested in volunteering with CCC or learning more about its services can email delmaspantry@gmail.com or call (804) 385-9421.