Eagle’s Wings to open feeding sites in Aurora

Published 5:52 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

Eagle’s Wings Executive Director Ann-Marie Montague knows that talk doesn’t feed the hungry, but food does.

That is why Eagle’s Wings food pantry is planning to open four mobile feeding sites in Aurora, said Montague.

“We are seeing a great need south of the river that is not being filled currently,” Montague said. “We have so many people down there that cannot get to Washington to come to our pantry.”

The mobile sites would offer food to qualified customers once a week on Thursdays, said Montague. The feeding site would rotate between four different locations. Two of the sites — one at Aurora Community Center and one at Fisher Village — have confirmed that they will participate, she said. The other two locations have yet to be determined.

The mobile sites will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursdays, said Montague. Eagle’s Wings will initially prepare to feed 30 families at each site, but will adjust up or down if needed.

The mobile sites will provide fresh produce and frozen meats, said Montague.

Montague says that a lack of access to healthy food is a big problem in the area.

Since Aurora does not have a grocery store, and residents must travel more than 25 miles into Pamlico County or Chocowinity to shop for groceries. Under the USDA definition, that makes the area a “food desert,” Montague said.

Eagle’s Wings currently administers the Food Bank of the Albemarle’s mobile food pantry, which serves Chocowinity and Aurora once a month. Montague said more is needed, however.

People both in and out of the organization have recognized that the lack of access to food in the Aurora area has been a problem for years, according to Montague.

“Everybody acknowledges this need, and they’ve been talking about this need, but talk doesn’t feed the people,” said Montague.

Those years of talk and inaction have spurred Montague and others to action.

Bob Boulden, president of the Eagle’s Wings board, said, “This has been the talk since I’ve been at Eagle’s Wings, and now we finally have approval from the board.”

Montague and Boulden are excited to get the ball rolling on what they see as an important project.

“If it’s not started at some point, it’s never going to happen,” Montague said. “So we want to be the starting point. We want to see something happen.”

Making it happen will require help from volunteers, she said.

Each week between two and four volunteers will be required to work the sites, plus help pack boxes of food the day before. Initially, volunteers will come from Eagle’s Wings. But Montague hopes the program will become self-sustaining.

“The hope is that, after a time period, if we can get it going, then the people in Aurora will see that this is possible,” said Montague. “Perhaps from this will arise a group that says ‘Hey, we can do this.’”

Montague expects the sites to be open in October. The mobile sites are a departure from Eagle’s Wings typical mode of serving the hungry, but Montague views it as an advantage.

“Our plan is to bring the food to where the people are, rather than to have just one spot designated as a pantry,” she said. “By being mobile, we’ll be able to go and reach a lot of people that cannot get transportation to come to a spot.”

Montague notes that transportation is a serious problem for many people in need of food.

She said that she will often see multiple families drive to Food Bank of the Pamlico’s mobile food pantry in a single car.

“Maybe only one person has a car with enough gas to get to that spot,” she said.

While the mobile feeding sites present a new challenge for Eagle’s Wings, Montague is hopeful.

“You have to take that leap of faith,” Montague said. “Sometimes you’ll land on your nose, but hopefully we’ll land on our feet and this program will take off and help the people that need it most in Beaufort County.”

Boulden expressed more confidence.

“We won’t land on our nose,” he said. “We’re landing on our feet. That’s the deal.”

A previous version of this article stated the mobile pantries would serve food on Tuesdays. The pantries will serve food from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursdays. We are happy to set the record straight.