NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) – This food closet has been around since 1979 and it distributes about $21,000 worth of food a week – and it’s not the food that’s expensive, but the utilities.
The North Highlands Christian Food Ministry is a weekly stop for Dave Cameron. He’s been homeless since his mom passed away nine years ago and he’s learning his source for food may be shutting down for good.
“Devastating for the homeless population,” Cameron said.
The pantry sits in the heart of a poverty and crime-stricken neighborhood in North Highlands.
“Which is so under-served,” said volunteer Shirlie Marymee.
Earl Shamblim is director of the food pantry. He says First Baptist Church on Watt Avenue allows his volunteers to run the food pantry three days a week.
“The one thing I hate to hear is ‘I’m hungry,'” Shamblin said.
But recently church leaders said they could no longer afford the utilities to keep the lights on and the massive industrial freezers running 24-7.
What’s causing the sudden cash flow crisis? An aging and shrinking congregation.
“Which means their offerings are dwindling,” Shamblin said.
Shamblin says it will force the 600-plus families who have visited since 1979 to go elsewhere.
“The other areas are already stretched,” said volunteer Wanda Murray.
First Baptist Church is giving Shamblim just weeks to find a new place.
“If I can’t find a place to go I don’t know where these people will go,” Shamblim said.
Which means it could leave folks like Cameron looking for answers.
“That would probably leave us homeless people probably without several days’ worth of food every week,” Cameron said.