Isabella donates over 1,300 food items to The Gathering

Published 9:44 am Monday, December 4, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Isabella Schools donated over 1,300 items to The Gathering food pantry earlier in November after a school-wide food drive sponsored by the high school’s historical society. The food drive was promoted as a competition between classes, and the winners were Thomas McCall’s 8C homeroom for the high school, and Wendy Smith’s first grade class for the elementary school.

SNAP Educator Extension Agent Sherry Carter works with the SNAP program through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, as well as teaches nutrition and partners with food pantries. She has been visiting The Gathering once a month for over a year, handing out various things from healthy recipes to cooking utensils from Extension.

She also visits schools in Chilton County and teaches a nutritional program for students, and while she was in one of the schools she saw a flier for a food drive. She asked the staff what they did with the food that was donated, and they were not sure.

While at Isabella, she saw a separate food drive flier and she wanted to check with the staff to make sure they had a good source to give the food to after the drive. She met with IHS teacher and historical society sponsor Joshua Holt, and he said they did not have a solid partner to donate it to.

Then, Carter put Isabella in contact with The Gathering.

“I met with them and I explained how The Gathering works,” Carter said. “The Gathering is a food pantry where they require nothing of you, and it happens once a week. The people who put it on work hard, and they give away a lot of food.”

The Gathering, run by Jeff Herron, opens its food pantry at 106 Chilton Place, Clanton every Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. for people to come get food for the week. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving on Nov. 21, Carter counted 140 people who came through to get food from the food pantry.

Isabella historical society students delivered and unloaded the food at the food pantry prior to Thanksgiving. Carter showed the students and historical society sponsors Thomas McCall and Holt around The Gathering and how it works.

The Gathering handed out just one-third of the food that IHS donated to them to people on Nov. 28, the first Tuesday after the donation.

“Around 95% of the people who come through the food pantry are elderly, and they just cannot make it on what they draw (from social security, etc.),” Carter said. “I love The Gathering … There are a lot of volunteers who come every week, and there are different people each week, but (Herron) is in charge, gets it together and works hard to do whatever he can to help people.”

Carter has already begun working with other schools who are having food drives to help get them in contact with a good source to donate the food to as well.