Hero of the week: Jeff Harrison

Published 2:18 pm Thursday, December 14, 2023

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Jeff Harrison, director of the Selma Area Food Bank, is being celebrated as this week’s Selma Times Journal Hero of the week. Born and raised in Selma, a member of Elkdale Baptist Church, a graduate of Southside High School, and happily married for over 50 years with two sons and four grandchildren, Harrison is not just a local figure, he’s a dedicated director and a symbol of compassion.

In his spare time, Harrison says that he and his wife enjoy spending time with his grandchildren. During the summer months, the family enjoys camping at Prairie Creek and boating on the river.

“We are truly blessed and eternally grateful,” Harrison said.  “We all live on the family farm and my grandchildren are growing up on the same land my children did.We’re so grateful to just see them every day and be involved.”

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Harrison’s commitment to serving others is evident as he leads the Selma area food bank, a role he took on after retiring from the banking business in 2015. His journey unfolds as a testament to faith and willingness to make a difference. 

“I was starting to consider retirement from retail banking, and I was on the Board of Directors for the food bank when an opening came up for Director,” Harrison said. “So, I just prayed on it and the doors kept opening.”

Under Harrison’s leadership, the Selma Area Food Bank has expanded its reach, distributing food to over 55 pantries across four counties by securing donations from national chains such as Walmart, Target, Publix and Aldi’s. Despite the challenges posed by what Harrison calls a “food desert” in the Selma area, the food bank has managed to thrive, more than doubling the facility’s capacity, and distributing over 2 million pounds of food annually.

“We’ve had to go further to get what we need and increase our poundage, so adding another truck has been a blessing,” Harrison said. “We are actually in the process of looking for a third truck so that we can go further into those areas with a lot of elderly people and people restricted by a lack of transportation.”

Highlighting the monthly distribution of commodities, Harrison shared that volunteers pack 35-pound boxes with essential grocery items, benefiting individuals on fixed and limited incomes. The second Thursday of each month witnesses an inspiring display of community support as visitors line up to receive these vital supplies.

“In my previous career, I was able to help a lot of people,” Harrison said. “But this is a whole different aspect of helping people—to see the faces and the gratitude.”