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Mission Marshall produce distribution event kicked off Friday

By Joe Holloway jholloway@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Feb. 1, 2013 at 10 p.m.

<p>Volunteers work to package produce for the long line of hungry residents of Harrison County in the parking lot of Immanuel Baptist Church on Friday.</p>

Cars full of people waiting for a sack full of fresh produce circled around the parking lot of Immanuel Baptist Church on Friday as volunteers with Mission Marshall kicked off what organizers hope will be a bi-weekly event.

According to Cumberland Presbyterian Church Pastor Rusty Rustenhaven, who was on hand helping to direct traffic, said cars showed up as early as 9 a.m. for the event scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

"I've heard in other towns they'll start lining up as early as 5 a.m.," he said. "But I feel like this will help us meet the food insecurity needs of Harrison County."

According to the Director of Mission Marshall Misty Scott, the food insecurity issues in Harrison County are a big reason the organization was first approached by the East Texas Food Bank, the organization Mission Marshall teamed with to put on the produce distribution.

"Harrison County is the most food insecure county the East Texas Food Bank services," she said. "You're food insecure if you don't have enough food to eat at least one meal every day of the month.

"In Harrison County, 20.6 percent of the population is food insecure."

David Rice, the pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church and a member of the Mission Marshall advisory board, said he thought the produce distribution was an important opportunity for local churches to follow the model of Christ.

"I think it's excellent," he said. "We're an under-resourced community in terms of feeding people and I think the church should be leading that."

Immanuel Baptist Church Pastor Carlton Burris called the event was happy to be a part of the event.

"It's just a real blessing and a thrill to be a part of something like this," he said. "Along with several other people, hopefully we can make sure no one goes to bed hungry."

Ms. Scott said there were 21 volunteers who showed up to help put together and pass out bags containing lettuce, cabbage, grapefruits and sweet potatoes.

"I think it went really smoothly, especially for our first event" she said. "I think having between 15 and 20 volunteers would be perfect.

"I hope the community continues to come out and support us."

People interested in volunteering at future events are encouraged to call Mission Marshall at (903) 472-4944.

Judy Hogberg, who works as a certification officer in East Texas Baptist University's Education Department, said she was having a good time passing out the food.

"We're giving blessings to the people," she said. "God is good and it's good to give."

Melody Maxwell, ETBU's Director of the Great Commission Center, said the school intends to have volunteers at each event, scheduled for the first and third Friday of every month.

"We're one of many organizations here to help serve," she said. "But it's an exciting way for our faculty, staff and students to help serve."

Altogether, Ms. Scott said 227 households were served, but that she realized there were still a number of hungry people out there.

"It can be daunting thinking about that number," she said. "But all you can do is try to help as many as you can one at a time and that's what we're trying to do."

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