TR Tribune: We’re Here for You; March 2013

As we move forward in this conversation, I hope to make it clear that the primary focus of Foothills Family Resources (FFR) is to move our neighbors in need from a place of crisis to one of self-sufficiency.  Crisis to self-sufficiency…..a phrase you will hear a good bit in this conversation, but we do not place a greater emphasis on the former or latter. Through the Integrated Services program and the soon to be instituted Center for Working Families, FFR does work to provide mental/medical health, educational and financial services that will aid in the ultimate goal of a more fulfilling life for all those we serve. But today we are going to talk about a service that I, and the great staff I am blessed to work with are very proud of performing. That service is providing food to those without. No matter what your culture, religion, ideology or political leaning, we all feel that inner spark encouraging us to be there for our fellow man or women.  It’s that unmistakable feeling in the pit of our stomach encouraging us to share this most basic of needs with those we inhabit this planet with.

At FFR, the food pantry is often the means by which someone is introduced to the myriad of services we offer as well as being one of the most utilized services we provide. In order to address this need The Graham Foundation generously funded the expansion of the food pantry in 2012, allowing FFR to store a greater amount and variety of food. What were once two adjoining closets is now a 15’ by 10’ area with shelving that contains primarily peanut butter, pasta, rice and canned vegetables/fruit/meat. Along with this, 2 chest freezers house anything from whole chickens to ham, fish and fresh bread.

As is consistent with our mission discussed in February’s column, FFR strives to provide not just food for sustenance, but food for health. One high quality protein source, 4 vegetable/fruit products and one starch such as rice, pasta or bread is provided per every 2 people in a household. And while FFR cannot be seen as the primary means for food in a household, we do understand that return visits are sometimes needed to get an individual or family through a difficult time.

There are no strings attached to the food pantry, but it is through this entry point that FFR’s staff can often identify other needs that may be addressed by FFR. As an example, a young woman can enter in need of food and be immediately referred to the Piedmont Women’s Center after informing staff that she is pregnant. Upon learning that she dropped out of school, the Women’s Center would refer her to the Foothills GED Program to continue her education and Greenville Mental Health to help process this new stressful situation in her life. FFR staff would then provide Benefit Bank counseling and opportunities to receive SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) and WIC(Women Infants Children) food and nutritional programming in house.  This type of situation occurs regularly at FFR, and this system will become even more focused and empowering this summer with the institution of the Center for Working Families which will include financial counseling, job training and employment services. I look forward to discussing this further in a future column.

As you can see, it is not just FFR’s individual services that make this organization so vital to Northern Greenville County; it is the close proximity of all of these services to an underserved population that makes FFR irreplaceable in the region. This is especially true considering FFR serves a population that faces a lack of transportation as a huge barrier to receiving services. These individuals need help and would go without if FFR did not exist.

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