Finding a Way

Volunteers prep food boxes for a monthly distribution at Suburban Christian Church in Bristol, Va. (Photo: Carol Kay)

Lee Horn runs the Suburban Christian Church’s food pantry in Bristol, Virginia – one of Feeding America Southwest Virginia’s 350+ partner programs.

The daughter of a pastor, Lee grew up advocating for those who are less fortunate. “All I’d ever known was helping people,” she explains modestly. She continues this mission daily in her service to the food pantry.

In the two years it has been in operation, Suburban Christian Church’s pantry has tripled the number of food boxes it is able to distribute monthly. “In the beginning, we distributed about 24 boxes of food, then it grew to 48 boxes, then 65,” Horn describes.

Though some come from far and wide, most of the clients are local, living in nearby low-cost hotels; they are a mixture of elderly, young adults, and families. Many of them – about half, according to Horn – technically make too much to receive government assistance, but still have no money for food.

“It’s hard to see (their struggle),” says Horn. She approached her pastor two years ago with the idea of establishing a food pantry; he told her they had tried in the past but had been unsuccessful. “All I need is a building,” Horn told her pastor. “Well, you’ve got one,” he answered.

The pantry can be a financial hardship for Horn, who funded and operated it entirely on her own in the beginning. “Now the church helps a little bit,” Horn said. The rest comes from donations, and Horn purchases whatever she is able to obtain with the meager funds.

It’s hard to see their struggle.”
– Lee Horn, Suburban Christian Church food pantry

Today, there are a total of five, including Horn, who work together to obtain the food needed for each monthly distribution.
Several others come to help box it up.

Despite the challenging work, Horn emphasized that she doesn’t worry about how she will get enough food for each distribution. “God has supplied all of this. He’s going to find a way for the food to be there,” she affirms. She relies on the generosity of people in the community, like a local grocery store owner who recently donated 1,000 pounds of potatoes.

FASWVA distributes nearly nine million pounds of food out of its Abingdon distribution center to Southwest Virginia partner programs like Suburban Christian Church.

The challenges may be great, but the reward is greater. “These people are so appreciative,” Horn says, recalling one client who recently wrote, “I work, I get a bit of money, but I still don’t have enough to buy food. If not for this pantry, I would be hungry for the
rest of the month.”

Sometimes, Lee said, “trying to find enough food to put in a box can be overwhelming,” but she is quick to add that “so far, the good Lord has found a way.”