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United Way feeds the hungry

The Times-Journal

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series in support of the 2006 United Way campaign which ends on Dec. 31, 2005. Funds to 15 member agencies will be distributed in 2006.

Hungry people in Selma and Dallas County receive food every day of the year through agencies supported by the United Way &045; Bosco Nutrition Center and the Selma Area Food Bank.

Bosco, located on Union Street near the intersection with Jeff Davis Avenue, has been providing hot lunches to approximately 200 persons per day for more than 20 years. It serves meals every day, 365 days a year. Recently, it added an evening meal to meet the needs of Katrina evacuees from the Gulf Coast who had made their way to the county.

Operated by Edmundite Missions, a Roman Catholic ministry in the Black Belt since 1937, Bosco’s meals are critical in meeting the daily nutritional needs of children, young people, men and women.

Bosco, in turn, along with some 55 other institutions and food pantries, receives some of its food from the Selma Area Food Bank that was established in 1993 by the United Way.

Later, the food bank became a free-standing agency with its own organization and 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Last year, American Red Cross, the parent body of another United Way agency,

provided the food bank with several tractor-trailer loads of food stuffs that had been positioned but not used on the Gulf Coast following Ivan.

This year, the food bank became a storage area for a time for clothing and other items donated for evacuees following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Among the approximately 55 active outlets supplied by the food bank is the Christian Outreach Alliance on Church Street, which is sponsored by Selma’s downtown churches, along with several others. The Church Street facility, operated by church volunteers, is open each Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and feeds hundreds of families during the year. Bright and early each Thursday morning, persons waiting for food can be seen lining up along the sidewalk in front of the Christian Outreach Alliance.

The main supplier of food for the Selma Area Food Bank is the Montgomery Area Food Bank, part of a national food distribution system.

In addition to United Way dollars that provide core support for the Selma Area Food Bank, there are food drives by churches, the Post Office, area schools and others, along with donations from groups and individuals.