(WSVN) - Two years after 7News highlighted a woman’s efforts to help feed her community during the COVID-19 pandemic, her mission has been magnified. What started with a single fridge stocked with free food is now the Village Pantry, a full-fledged feeding operation serving those struggling during these tough times.
Sherina Jones: “People are losing their jobs, kids are home more than ever and the cost of food is rising on a day-to-day basis.”‘
Two years later, coronavirus fears have eased, but the need for help has not.
Sherina Jones: “From the pandemic to now, I can say things have gotten worse.”
Sherina’s first fridge was plugged in outside Roots Black House Print Shop on Northwest Seventh Avenue in Liberty City.
People could come take whatever they needed … For free.
Isaiah Thomas, Roots Black House: “There’s times where us ordinary citizens can be a real village.”
Now, the village fridge has grown into the Village Pantry.
Sherina Jones: “The growth is definitely surprising to me because I started out with just a thought of having one refrigerator outside to take care of this community, and it’s like, my thought just organically grew on its own.”
On that same sidewalk, people now line up in the morning for a hot cup of coffee or bowl of oatmeal.
Volunteer: “Good thing you got here when you did.”
Man: “Thank you.”
And leave with a bag of food.
Sherina Jones: “Mr. Palmer, how you doing?”
Inside the pantry is a small space for volunteers with big hearts.
It’s where Sherina’s mom is busy making sandwiches and where boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables from supermarkets are delivered instead of dumped.
Sherina Jones: “Instead of the food going to the trash, they rescue it and they bring it to the pantry, so we created this whole system so that we’re combating food waste and food insecurity at the same time.
Sherina’s system has three different options depending on the need. From fruit, sandwiches and bottled water for those who are homeless, to microwavable meals for the elderly, and finally, meat, produce and other items for families to make their own meals at home.
Sherina Jones: “We’re serving 300 families and individuals a day here at the Village Pantry.”
People like Ira Harris.
Ira Harris/volunteer: “When I first started coming here, I was in the line like the rest of them.”
The military veteran now pays it forward, volunteering to sign people in at the pantry.
Ira Harris: “I love it. I didn’t ever know I love working for free.”
As for the woman who started all this…
Theresa Agnew/volunteer: “She’s awesome and she works hard.”
Ira Harris: “She don’t turn nobody away. We call her the queen.”
But Sherina still deals with her own doubts.
Sherina Jones: “I leave here some days bawling in tears, like, is what I’m doing effective? Is what I’m doing enough?”
As for what the future holds, Sherina envisions not just handing out food.
Sherina Jones: “So it’s a learning kitchen to introduce them to healthier eating.”
Judging by these smiling faces, Sherina is already feeding a need and so much more.
For more information on the Village Pantry, visit this link.
To donate, visit their GoFundMe page.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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