Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hunger In The Outer Banks

Last Saturday, my family and I took our annual trek to the Outer Banks.  When we have the money to do it, we stay for a week and when we don't, we stay for a day.  This year was a week long trip filled with memories and hurdles that will be the subject of stories and conversations as the kids grow.  Before we begin our blogging journey, sharing the fun and frustrations we had, there's something more pressing we need to share.

Sandman and I were not always able to easily feed our crew, even when our crew was as small as the three of us.  We started out just fine.  Wedding, jobs, house, baby and then we moved from Georgia to Virginia and the wheels fell off!  The cost of living nearly killed us.  We were on WIC, a wonderful program that literally was our bread and butter for years.  In Georgia, we had a big, beautiful historic house and then, when we landed in Virginia and (after scraping together a sufficient down payment while living on peanut butter and jelly in an apartment) we bought a fixer-upper with a leaking roof, a shifting foundation, dirt basement and floors that made playing marbles with our son, very exciting!  We had a hard time keeping the lights on and food on the table while Sandman was in PGA school.  Then we had our daughter, Vannie (things got even tighter)!  Anyway...

We've developed a real heart for the hungry, as we have a full appreciation for the desperation, despair and humiliation, an empty tummy can bring.

An Instagram of Vannie at breakfast when the smell of bacon, cooking at a restaurant across the street, got us to put down our bowls of cereal and cross route 12 for something much yummier! 

Each year, when our beach week is over, I stress about the amount of food that's left for the garbage.  Unopened boxes of this, cans of that, all bought at the beginning of the week with the full intention of saving money by cooking at the beach house but then tossed out at the end of the week when we didn't eat them (because the fried wonders, about town, beckoned loudly to be eaten)!   We live just two and a half hours from the Outer Banks, so really, I bring home as much as I can, but rarely am I brave enough to bring home the cold kept items and I never bring home the frozen items!  You just never know when your short trip will be doubled on I-64 and your frozen items spoiled.  My extended family hails from Tennessee and Maryland, so they don't bring home more than they can munch in the car during their trip!
I've always wondered why there wasn't a place readily available for the collection of beach-goer foods for the hungry beach-inhabitants!  Surely, someone has thought of this, besides Sandman and me!  

This year, since we were "taking our time" going home (trying to avoid the mass exodus on the highway), I packed up our unopened, frozen and refrigerated items in one of those "free with purchase" bags, before we turned in our keys and we set off to find a place to deliver them.  I always tell the kids,

"Missions present themselves if you just keep your eyes and ears open for them." 

I was determined to show them that this was true, even on vacation.  If we had to pass out the food under the bridges and piers, we would.  We've been known to do it before.  Why not on vacation?

I fumbled through tiny page, after tiny page on the wifi connection on my phone, at breakfast and made a few calls.  What I found was that there is a food pantry in Kitty Hawk!  Donations from local food drives provide them with large amounts of food but they run out of food regularly!  Unfortunately, they are only open for drop off during the week between 2 and 4 o'clock!  They take, both, dry and perishable foods but since our checkout is Saturday (like most of the rentals), this won't help the hungry or those who wish to help!  Food Lion in Kitty Hawk and the Dare County Library both take donations but they only take dry goods!  That may help some, but not those with frozen things to give.  I found a list of churches that contribute and help with the food pantry in the Outer Banks, so I started there!  The third church I called answered!  Yeah!  My hope was that the friendly voice at the other end of the phone could give me a location for drop off!  Again, I was shocked that this sort of thing hadn't occurred to anyone down there before, but Connie at Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church, was happy to wait for my arrival and helped me find a place in the church freezer for the donation of our foods!  They will deliver them to the food pantry for us!

For now, if you are going to vacation in the Outer Banks, and you have food to donate at the end of your stay, you may bring your food to the following locations:

Dry-goods and Perishables on Saturdays may be donated at: 

Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church
803 West Kitty Hawk Rd.
Kitty Hawk, NC, 27949

Call first, to be sure someone is there to help you.  Connie is my contact person.  She knows to expect calls and deliveries.  

The Beach Food Pantry is located at 3809-D Croatan Highway in the Sea Dunes Shoppes in Kitty Hawk between milepost 4 and 4.5.  If you wish to donate directly, you may do so  Monday - Friday from 2 - 4 pm and Wednesday from 10 am to 12 pm.  This doesn't help much, if your check out is on Saturday or Sunday, but if your check out is on Friday and you can get yourself moving quick enough, your window of donation-opportunity is between 2 and 4:00!  Hurry!

Dry-goods Only, may be donated at:

Dare County Library
400 Mustian Street 
Kill Devil Hills 

Food Lion
Any location in Dare County should have a donation box.

For current information on food drives at the beach and the hours of operation, of the Beach Food Pantry, you may visit their website HERE!

We now have contacts in the area, and first thing on Monday, we are calling OBX churches, Realtor's offices, the Beach Food Pantry and the HOTline women's shelter to see if we could coordinate drop off locations, times and items with the checkout times for the beach-goers!

If everyone who stays at the beach has one bag of food at the end of the week, to donate, the people of Dare County may never know hunger!

It's a start!  We'll keep you informed, as this develops in the future.  Spread the word!  

Sandman & Me


  1. Thank you so much for your efforts in this much needed solution. You might want to add the rental agencies to your list of phone calls. They should ALL have an organized drop off program and make sure that their guests are made aware of the program. I feel it all starts with them.

    1. I totally agree, the problem is this: Some rental agencies have a box for non-perishables and some don't. The ones who do have a box, don't take their goods to the food pantry on a regular basis and the food pantry is to short handed to make pick ups! The other problem with just having a box (besides getting the food to the pantry) is that most tourists are only there for a week and tend to buy perishable foods that can be microwaved, grilled or cooked quickly. Fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased on the way to OBX at farmers markets along the road. These foods, when not eaten during the stay, are tossed in the trash because the food pantry isn't open on checkout days and even if they were, they "don't trust" that some of the food is fresh and therefore don't accept much of the food! I've never encountered a food pantry quite like this one (and I've volunteered at a few)! It seems to me, simple changes in schedules at the food pantry, scheduled pick ups of food boxes at rental agencies and donated freezers and refrigerators at the larger rental agencies; would completely fix this problem. I've spoken with many OBX rental companies and the operators of the food pantry. None of them seem to want to make any changes for the community food program, that make sense for renters. It's a shame that so much food goes to waste on a weekly basis, especially for an area that has such a huge hunger problem and is plagued by so many storms.