As a delivery truck packed with eggs was offloading at the Northwest Georgia Food Bank on a bright Thursday morning, ministry and outreach workers were already carrying dozens of them to the warehouse door for distribution to needy families.
It’s “eggs-actly” what’s needed at the distribution center on South Hamilton, a branch of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, said Director of Development Holly Ashley.
“We’re kicking off our Easter food drive,” she explained as hydraulic lifts were used to push and pull the eggs and more representatives of nonprofits lined up to get their share. “We get these every year, but this is the first year for the Northwest Georgia branch. We want to serve more people here with the high unemployment.”
The Larry Thomason Egg Farm in Calhoun dropped off 300 dozen eggs in Dalton. Driver Tommy Parm reported he delivers 200 cases — or 12,000 dozen — eggs each day working within a 200-mile radius.
“We have to make a profit, but (the company) is happy to make donations to ministries and food banks,” he said.
Jen Ferking, the Chattanooga food bank’s special events and food drive coordinator, said the operation feeds 20,000 people every week in a 20-county service delivery area in Georgia and Tennessee.
“Any food drive (for the food bank) is tremendous support, and when it’s from an organization or farm like this it goes a very long way,” she said. “Eggs are nutritious and protein-dense. But they’re also perishable, so we get them out quickly by letting agencies know two weeks ahead of time when they’ll be here. These eggs will be on someone’s table in anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.”
William Holmes, a truck driver for the Salvation Army, waited patiently for his call to pick up eggs.
“It means a lot,” he said when asked about his fragile load. “It helps feed the community ... I come to the food bank twice a week and make deliveries in Dalton and Murray County.”
Ashley said the food brought to Dalton goes further, though.
“The whole northwest Georgia area gets the food that’s distributed here,” she said. “It’s such a blessing (for ministries and outreaches) not to have to drive to Chattanooga.”
Ferking noted food distribution is all-encompassing.
“Without the support of the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we do — feed all these people,” she said.
This is the fifth consecutive year United Egg Producers and the Feeding America network of food banks have teamed up in the fight against hunger, according to a Feeding America release.
“Egg farmers nationwide will donate nearly 12 million eggs to help make sure America’s food banks are well stocked ... Since 2008 America’s egg farmers have donated more than 62 million eggs to local food banks across the country,” the release states.
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank and its Northwest Georgia Food Bank branch in Dalton are members of the Feeding America network. The Chattanooga Food Bank distributed 11.9 million pounds of food last year.