Synethia Nelson, right, and William Roundtree, both of Wilson, unload corn and as other volunteers help to move the load from a Food Bank truck Tuesday at the New Christian Food Pantry and Development Center in Wilson. Photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Drew C. Wilson | Times
Elder Marvin T. Taylor, founder of the New Christian Food Pantry in Wilson, watches as produce and other food stuffs are loaded into the facility after being delivered to Wilson. Photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Drew C. Wilson | Times
By Drew C. Wilson
Times Staff Writer
Marvin and Candy Taylor couldn’t stomach the idea of children being hungry in Wilson.
The Taylors are the founders of the New Christian Food Pantry and Child Development Center downtown on Douglas Street.
“The reason behind our starting, basically, my husband, he was the caretaker at the Snowden Drive apartments and saw little children coming out picking up popcorn off the ground and eating it. So we saw the need then,” said Candy Taylor. “The compassion is from my youth. My mom had nine children. I’m the fifth of nine, and there was barely enough food to eat. So the passion comes from there. Seeing the need that is in Wilson is tremendous, very tremendous.”
The sidewalk on Douglas Street was a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables Tuesday as volunteers moved pallets of green beans, tomatoes, bananas, watermelons, strawberries and sweet potatoes off the truck and into the New Christian Food Pantry and Child Development Center.
Every second Tuesday and every fourth Thursday, a truck comes from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina with donated goods bound for needy families in and around Wilson.
As of last month, the non-profit agency has reconnected the Oklahoma-based charity Feed the Children as a resource for the food being distributed to the needy around Wilson.
The food pantry had been a partner with the organization since 2007, but until the pantry moved into its present location in 2016, the Feed the Children deliveries had to be stopped because there was no storage room.
“We have the room now, and we need the food desperately,” Candy Taylor said.
“It’s very important because we feed a lot of people, from 1,500 to 2,000 a month, and that helps the neighborhood. We don’t charge anyone. We just do it freely,” said Marvin Taylor. “I love it just like it’s part of me. It’s good for the neighborhood, and it’s good for the city. It takes all of it to get it done. What else can we do?”
The Food Bank in Raleigh receives the food stuffs from donations in and around the capital city.
“They give it to us, except for some of it we’ve got to buy. We have to buy the meats and stuff,” Marvin said. “They give us the food, and we give it to the people.”
Volunteer Robin Speight was among the group of people who met the truck and began the redistribution effort Tuesday.
“There is so much need now. Some just need the support to get back out into having a normal life,” Speight said. “It takes a village to raise a child. I have my own non-profit, but I come out to support this in order to give back to the community. If you know people out in the community that need it, you let them know.”
Charles J. Herring, a volunteer from Trinity AME Zion on Martin Luther King Boulevard, said the donations are a big help to the needy in Wilson.
“I know they appreciate it’s not something they have to buy because a lot of folks don’t have money to buy it,” Herring said. “They come here and they come other places, and hopefully that together will take them through the month.”
“Whoever’s in need of food can come. We don’t discriminate,” said Shurine Faison, from House of Deliverance in Goldsboro.
Candy Taylor is a brave woman who isn’t afraid to venture into some of the more impoverished, and in some cases dangerous, parts of the city, including a small apartment complex where Taylor drove in with a van-load of food Wednesday.
“They call it The School Yard. I come every month. Always there is a need here,” Taylor said. “I have to be realistic. Some won’t come here because they say the drug dealers hang out here and the bad guys. Grandma ain’t scared of the drug dealer. He ain’t gonna eat my Holy Ghost chicken and be the same. He better be scared of me.”
Taylor said some folks just aren’t capable of getting to the food pantry to receive the food, so she feels compelled to venture into the streets to deliver it.
She points to a man with one leg up on a nearby porch.
“So how is he supposed to get to my center?” Taylor said. “And these old folks. Everybody doesn’t have a vehicle. How are they going to get down there and get back? I don’t have no problem knocking on doors.”
There is such a need in here and people need to know, Taylor said.
“It’s not just if they get food stamps, they will be all right. Not necessarily does the food stamps cover them,” said Taylor. “I’ve got seniors who have got six dollars worth of food stamps. That’s not enough for the month. We don’t just stop because they got food last week, and I’m not going to give them food this week. I can’t do that. I can’t afford that. I know what we’re giving is not enough for a month, so that’s why we continue.”
The need is not exclusive to food either. That’s why the Taylors opened Solomon’s Porch, a thrift store next to the food pantry.
“I keep a notebook saying what families need, what types of furniture they need, and that’s not a small list,” Taylor said, holding a 3-inch-thick binder filled with the names of those who are in need.
“As we get furniture in, we are taking it to them. When somebody calls in to say they’ve got a bed to donate, we go pick it up, and we bring it back and we take it to them,” Taylor said. “This is how many families are that are in need of necessary things, stoves, refrigerators, bedrooms, some sleeping on the floor — not on a mattress on the floor, on the floor. So it’s a very serious need here, and the more we pull together, the better we’ll get the job done. That’s what I believe.”
Cameron Mitchell, a young man who was getting a load of food for the first time Wednesday, thanked the efforts of the Taylors and the support they provide.
“I would like to say I appreciate the thought and the idea and the time that he takes out to help someone else out,” Mitchell said. “In the long run, I will do the same thing to help someone else out.”
For more information, call 252-265-6165 or visit the food pantry at 111 Douglas St.