Operating in Spring Hill for almost 15 years, The Well Outreach food pantry had a record day Saturday when during its mobile food drive at Spring Hill High School, the nonprofit served 300 families in need.
After running out of food, The Well directed an additional 73 families to its new facility on Main Street, dwarfing its previous record for the number of families served in a single day.
The mobile food pantry began at 9 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Spring Hill High School, where dozens of volunteers readied themselves to serve hundreds of families, all waiting in their vehicles for the drive-thru food drive to begin. By 10:30 a.m., all 20,000 pounds of food had been given out, with the remaining 73 families instructed to meet at The Well’s new facility on Main Street.
While demand has steadily increased at The Well since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the sheer number of families seen Saturday were, by far, the highest the nonprofit had ever seen, with the next highest demand in a single day being at the height of the UAW strike in late 2019, which saw around 250 families served.
“The Well is up 80 percent for the month in our everyday traditional service, and at our mobile food pantry, we are seeing a tremendous amount of first-time guests who've never needed a food service before,” said Shelly Sassen, executive director for The Well. “We also saw a very large percentage of guests from smaller, more rural cities that were coming into Spring Hill to be served.”
And while being given the opportunity to help more families in need was, in Sassen’s words a "blessing," with that increased demand comes the struggle of keeping up with their food supply.
“Everyday is started off with a prayer at The Well, [but] honestly, we have no idea where our funding is going to be coming from, or our food donations,” Sassen said. “We are just trying to do our best to advocate for our community to our community, and so it's just having a continual communication and dialogue with churches, business and individuals, relaying to them our need for food.”
To put the increased demand in perspective, Sassen said that the amount of food that would have typically been given out over the span of a week is now being given out in a single day. Nevertheless, Sassen said the support from the Spring Hill community and beyond has been “outstanding.”
“The support we've received from our community has been outstanding - we've never received this kind of support,” Sassen said. “At the same time though, the need is bigger than it's ever been before.”
The Well is anticipating continued increases in need in the coming weeks, and is calling on the community to help support its goal of serving families in need. To learn more about how to donate food to The Well, click here, or to make a monetary donation, click here.