Pender Co. non-profit’s goal of feeding people in rural areas gets boost with van donation

Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 8:55 AM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - We often hear about food deserts, especially in urban areas. Wilmington’s northside has struggled with adequate fresh food options for years, but it’s an issue in rural areas as well.

It can be hard to believe in 2023 but more than one-tenth of North Carolina lives in a food desert, which means fresh fruits and vegetables are not readily available.

A non-profit in Pender County is aiming to chip away at that number with the help of a big donation. Parts of inland Pender County are known to have a lack of resources when it comes to food. That’s why a refrigerated van could make all the difference.

A van was recently donated to Pender County Christian Services to help it deliver food to those who are in rural communities.

PCCS is a nonprofit food pantry, clothing distribution center and disaster relief agency. They partnered with Cape Fear Collective to deliver meals to homes twice a week. They focus on everyone from the elderly who can’t leave home to children with medical issues and those living on a fixed low income. But, providing food is only part of their mission.

“We’re not only feeding people, we’re trying to get people healthy. So we’re doing more fresh vegetables. People need to be healthy and so fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, a mix of different various canned foods. Now we’re delivering all over the county, all over Hampstead, Currie, Maple Hill, Rocky Point, all over these food deserts,” said Sandy Harris, executive director for Pender County Christian Services.

Michael Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Capital and a former professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, recently noticed PCCS’s hardships. He heard that one of the things they were struggling with most was delivering meals to food-insecure families in rural Pender County. His solution was a refrigerated van, which we’re told cost about $50,000 in total.

We asked Jacobs what his motivation was to donate.

“We tend to believe that with all of the money we put into the government services that everybody gets served, and not everybody does get served. Not everybody can go out to get served and not everybody has a car to drive over to the PCCS office in Burgaw to pick up food. So, I’m sure that the people that are now receiving meals that weren’t receiving meals before, feel that somebody cares about them,” said Jacobs

This wasn’t Jacobs’s first donation to PCCS, a few years ago he bought a brand-new security system for the non-profit after they were broken into. However with his latest donation, he will help secure meals for countless people in Pender County.