Food pantry helping laid off U.S. Steel workers closes

FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) — Volunteers at a pop-up food pantry said their goodbyes Friday afternoon, and went their separate ways.

The food pantry opened in October to give much needed help to families of U.S. Steel employees, who’d been laid off, thanks to grants from the Jefferson County Commission and the United Way of Central Alabama.

“We’ve served almost 1,000 families in the last three months,” said Terry Davis, who works for the United Way. “We made a big push this week, trying to get food out for folks so they can have it for the holidays.”

Now that the grant money has been spent, Friday was the last day for the food pantry.

For some families, the pantry has provided more than meals.

“I really don’t know what it’s like to not have a place to go during the week,” said Jennifer Wade, who was laid off and now volunteers for the pantry. “It’s been a blessing, as far as helping my family to provide groceries. It’s also a blessing in that you can come here and see your coworkers, and you can provide for members of the community, people who are less fortunate than us.”

Some employees have even brought their children to help.

Chase Powell’s grandmother, Vanessa, still works for U.S. Steel and helps run the food pantry, but Powell’s grandfather stopped working for the company in October.

“It’s just hard for us to keep up with with bills and things like that at home,” Powell, 10, said. “I like helping people because people help me. And it’s a good thing because, I bless them back and people –God blesses me back.”

Davis said the workers were given Publix gift cards to purchase food for the rest of the year, and the United Way of Central Alabama will continue to help and accept donations in 2016.

Vanessa Powell said there is still some canned food left in the food bank, so she hopes to re-open in January.

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