Wingate University students help raise local food pantry awareness
Wingate students studying public relations will test their skills by trying to raise donations of money, food and volunteer time for Loaves & Fishes of Union County.
The Union County nonprofit has been feeding the hungry for 27 years, and today the Monroe-based food pantry is providing more than 4000 Union County people. The agency even increased the number of times a family can come to pantry – from three to four times a year.
Enter students in communications professor Kara Presnell’s public relations class. Their assignment: let more people know about the work of the agency and, hopefully, prompt more people to give food, funds, time. The agency also hopes to find more community business partners.
Wingate University’s motto is “Faith, Service and Learning,” Presnell said. When approached for help earlier this summer by a fellow professor who sits on the board of Loaves & Fishes of Union County, Presnell recognized the teaching potential of the opportunity.
This fall, Presnell tasked her students with creating a publicity campaign for the nonprofit. “It’s a win-win situation,” Presnell said. “The students are gaining real-life educational experience while also living up to the ‘service’ aspect of our school’s motto.”
Union County Commissioner candidate Robin Stitt is one of Presnell’s students and she got the assignment to contact media outlets like The Union County Weekly.
Loaves & Fishes does not get help from the federal, state or local governments and is not affiliated with any larger state, regional or national organization. Nor is it affiliated with Charlotte Loaves & Fishes.
Without public support, social service agencies that partner with Loaves & Fishes to help meet local needs would surely suffer. Loaves & Fishes provides food to residents referred by agencies like the Union County Department of Social Services, Union House, the HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center, Turning Point and Hospice of Union County.
Loaves & Fishes volunteers bring many skills to the organizations. Some keep records, pay bills and handle correspondence. Others speak to organizations, write grant applications and help with fundraising.
They have an immediate need for more volunteers to purchase, transport, stock and sort pantry items to ensure each family gets a week’s worth of nutritionally balanced groceries. Monthly pantry shifts range from two to eight hours.
Year after year, food drives organized by groups like the postal workers, fraternal organizations, churches, schools, scouts and local businesses, play a key role in keeping the shelves stocked. Unfortunately, while appreciated, the agency is unable to accept home-cooked donations like homemade jams, jellies or pickles or any packages that are expired, dented, leaking or open.
Where to Learn More
Loaves & Fishes, located at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 116 S. Church St., Monroe, the pantry dispenses food and accepts donations from 10 a.m. until noon everyday of the week except Friday and Sunday. Find out more and how to help at the agency’s website, loavesandfishesofunioncounty.org, or call 980-328-7111.