On Friday morning, Pastor Wade Weigel checked the donation box at Lifeline OBX Food Pantry in Salvo and found several bags of groceries stowed safely inside.
“Hallelujah,” he said, dancing in the parking lot.
Weigel hopes the tourists returning to Hatteras Island and today will bring more food to share.
“We’ve got a lot of needs here right now,” said Weigel, who runs Lifeline OBX Food Pantry in Salvo. Normally at this time of year his operation is building up stocks of canned and frozen foods so it can help island residents through the winter months, when nearly all the businesses close up and so many of his Weigel’s neighbors are out of work.
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But with power out for the past week, many people have been idled – and unpaid. It hurts them now, Weigel said, because many lost all their refrigerated food and with no paycheck this week, they had to eat everything else they had on hand. It will hurt them later, too, because most would have set aside part of those wages to see them through the months from October to April.
“What’s lost is lost,” said Weigel. “You can’t get that back. Even though the visitors are coming back onto the island, it’s not like employers can pay people two weeks’ wages for a week of work.”
Lifeline is one of three food pantries operated in the area where a construction accident at Bonner Bridge took out power to all of Ocracoke Island and everything on Hatteras south of Oregon Inlet early on the morning of July 27.
Weigel said he is especially concerned for children on the island. Hatteras has about 600 school-aged children, 53 percent of whom qualified for free or reduced-price lunches at school last year. In addition to making sure they have enough to eat now, the food pantry is collecting money to make sure there no child has an unpaid lunch voucher at school this year.
“Those kids get peanut butter and jelly for lunch,” Weigel said. “Some would rather not eat than take that and have people know their parents can’t afford to buy their lunch.”
The pantry also is collecting school supplies to stock local classrooms closets so that students won’t go without.
Visitors coming onto the island can contribute items to the food pantry, next to the Liberty gas station in Salvo. If the pantry and thrift shop are not open, there is a donation box just off the front porch. Checks can be sent to Lifeline Outreach P.O. Box 359,Salvo, NC 27972. The organization is a 501-c non-profit.
Weigel said two other food pantries need help as well. They are the Hatteras Island Food Pantry at Buxton United Methodist Church, Buxton; and the pantry at Ocracoke Island Assembly of God Church.
Lifeline is especially in need of: canned soups, vegetables, fruits and meats; boxed meals, pasta, rice and beans; peanut butter and jelly; flour, sugar and oils; gravy and pasta sauces; instant mashed potatoes; pancake mix and syrup; cereals and muffin mixes; pet foods; paper good; diapers and wipes; toiletries and feminine hygiene items.