Almost every day, I am asked to address the difference between food banks and food pantries and which one should we support. There is one food bank in the Augusta area and that is The Golden Harvest Food Bank. Golden Harvest distributes food to families in Columbia County through 12 food pantries.
With the exception of Columbia County Cares, the food pantries in Columbia County are located in churches. To my knowledge all food pantries in Columbia County are 100 percent volunteer operations and all fully supported through donation of food and money.
Columbia County Cares acquires 60 percent of the food we distribute to families through Golden Harvest Food Bank. In return for this food, Columbia County Cares shares in the cost of Golden Harvest receiving, checking and repackaging this food.
Our share in the cost of the food we receive from Golden Harvest is normally 16 cents a pound. Food that is not available through Golden Harvest must be either purchase from local sources or donated through food drives or from independent grocery stores, restaurants or food distributors. In 2012, 30 percent of our monetary donations went to Golden Harvest to acquire food for distribution to our less-fortunate clients.
Food pantries in Columbia County are not in competition with Golden Harvest; we are agencies in partnership with them. Pantries need donations of money to help acquire food through Golden Harvest, and donations of food and money to acquire food that is not available through Golden Harvest.
Bottom line: When you support one, you support the other.
(David Iverson is executive director of the Columbia County Cares Food Pantry.)