National Guard helps Harvest Hope Food Bank’s Pee Dee branch as demands grow

April 22, 2020

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - The South Carolina National Guard is now helping Harvest Hope Food Bank’s locations as their demand grows.

Nicole Echols, executive director of Harvest Hope’s Pee Dee branch, said the soldiers are packing boxes, moving items, and assisting their 166 partner agencies.

Echols said they had to shift their mission to making non-perishable food boxes.

“Before we were just needing agencies to get more food but we have a lot of communities reaching out to us asking for non-perishable food boxes and in order to meet that need, we could not meet that need without the National Guard here packing those boxes,” Echols said.

Echols said their demand has seen a significant increase due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but have seen a decrease in the number of volunteers. She said the soldiers have been able to fill that role.

“We have people who sort products, but they [soldiers] are sorting faster because we see the need has increased, so they are packing boxes, sorting through products, sorting through bread and they are doing a lot of things we need to do and it makes us more efficient. It also allows us to reduce the number of people in the building,” Echols said.

Lt. Colonel Edward Cloyd, Deputy Commander of the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, said working with Harvest Hope is a great opportunity for his soldiers.

“It takes them a little while to figure out what they are doing and what the food bank wants from them, but once they figure out how to get everything packaged, and they have a nice little setup going so they can put the meals together to get them ready to go,” Cloyd said.

Harvest Hope Food Bank is looking for donations so they can continue to provide for those in need. CLICK HERE if you would like to donate to the Harvest Hope Food Bank.

You can watch the video here.