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Dalton organization serves up hot meals, food pantry for those in need

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Three meals a day is something most people take for granted. Far too many families in our community, however, find themselves having to choose between paying rent to keep a roof over their heads or putting food on the table for their families.

City of Refuge in Dalton helps meet that need by providing hot meals three times a week to anyone in need. The food is served on Monday and Thursday nights and Sunday mornings and the organization typically feeds about 150 people at each meal. It’s one of many services the organization offers.

“We provide hot showers when showers are needed, we provide food boxes through our food pantry, we have a clothing closet where we give clothes to those who need clothes, we have housing, we have educational programs, we just, we do a lot. Whatever the need is, we try to meet that need,” said Jennifer Nicholson with City of Refuge.

City of Refuge partners with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank and other organizations to run its food pantry.

Anyone who meets the state guidelines for poverty can request assistance.

In Georgia, the poverty level is defined as an income of $14,713 a year for an individual person and $30,313 for a family of four. The pantry offers families a box of food to help supplement their groceries for the week.

“They give us boxes of food that we get to take home. And so if we can’t go buy groceries that’s what we eat,” said City of Refuge client Adelina Martin.

The Martin family is one of many who rely on this service to help makes ends meet and keep food on the table.

“[With] the food they give us, we just have to go buy a little bit,” Martin said. “And so if they didn’t give us food then we would not last through the week with what we have now.”

Without the food bank’s support, City of Refuge directors say they wouldn’t be able to meet as many of those needs.

“They help us to keep our shelves stocked so that we can meet the needs of each family that comes in. We wouldn’t be able to service half of what we service if we didn’t have a partnership with them,” Nicholson said.

The food bank also helps connect City of Refuge with other resources in the community.

“The other side of the partnership with the food bank is they help us to partner with local markets so that we can go in and get food that’s going to be thrown away, just trashed, and we can get it and give it out immediately to families,” said Nicholson. “So we get food that literally would go in the dump, we can hand out. It’s perfectly good food, it’s just about to expire or something. So we partner with them and they allow us to go into the markets and get that food so that it doesn’t get thrown away.”

Volunteers like former client Thomas Hunt hope people will give to efforts like Share Your Christmas to help the Chattanooga Area Food Bank be able to continue to support community organizations like City of Refuge.

“Without the Chattanooga food bank, we would struggle tremendously to be honest with you. It has been a real impact towards the City of Refuge and many other ministries around the Dalton area,” said Hunt.

This year’s Share Your Christmas food drive is set for Friday, Dec. 4 from 4:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Donations will be accepted at three locations: First Tennessee Pavilion in Chattanooga, Life Care Center’s Campbell Campus in Cleveland and First Baptist Church in Dalton.

Food collected at each drop off site with stay in those communities to help people in need.

If you can’t make it to Share Your Christmas, you can still help the Chattanooga Area Food Bank by making a monetary donation online.

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