“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43″ 18-19
Food is one of our most basic human needs. While the majority of Americans give little thought to how or what they will eat each day, sadly, that’s not true for everyone.
According to Feeding America, before the coronavirus pandemic, an estimated 37 million Americans faced food insecurity. This year, that number is projected to jump to 54 million due to the increased number of workers furloughed or laid off during the pandemic.
While considering the importance of feeding the hungry, I thought about the story of Jesus, when he fed more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. It was getting late, and the disciples wanted to send the people back to the village to get food because they were concerned about the cost to feed that many people. Jesus demonstrated compassion and understanding and modeled the value of providing for a person’s spiritual and physical needs. In the end, there was food to spare. “When they all ate and were satisfied, the disciples picked up 12 baskets full of broken pieces of bread and fish,” Mark 6:42.
During the pandemic, food banks around the country continue to answer the call to feed thousands of people. While breaking food distribution records, it’s apparent that the need is great, especially for lower-income families.
Locally, Second Harvest of South Georgia is on the frontline in the battle against hunger. This year from mid-March through July, Second Harvest of South Georgia distributed more than 11 million pounds of food—the equivalent of 9.71 million meals (based on 1.2 pounds of food per meal).
When the academic year ended early, Clinch County School System delivered 74,400 meals (breakfast and lunch) to students. And in Lowndes County, dozens of volunteers and restaurants helped Living Bridges Ministry prepare more than 64,000 hot meals for local families.
Demand American Grown
Farming is not a job for the faint of heart. The landscape of the American family farm is changing. Last year, Georgia had 41 family farms file Chapter 12 bankruptcies, up from 26 the previous year.
In a uniting effort to save family farms, the American Grown movement is working to educate consumers and government leaders about the economic importance of buying American grown and produced food.
“As Americans, we are in this fight together to leave our world a better place,” says Russ Goodman, a seventh-generation farmer from Clinch County. “And this means leaving our children with a safe and abundant food supply for the future.”
In this issue, we highlight Waycross-Ware County, a regional transportation hub that benefits from a Class 1 rail serviced by CSX Transportation, an extensive highway system, and easy access to international seaports.
“Our strength is transportation,” says Jana Dyke, president and CEO of the Waycross-Ware County Development Authority. “With the rail lines and highways, cargo can move anywhere in the U.S. We truly are ‘where the ways cross.'”
Amid the pandemic, South Georgia communities are building partnerships that provide solutions, drive innovative growth, foster the expansion of existing businesses, and bring new industries and jobs to the region.
South Georgia Medical Center has formed a partnership with the Mercer University School of Medicine to establish an internal medicine and emergency residency program in Valdosta.
The City of Valdosta recently received a Georgia Smart Communities Challenge grant to equip traffic signals with smart technology to increase safety and efficiency.
New to Decatur County, A-1 Trusses will build a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, representing a $17 million investment and 130 jobs. Paerosol Global Partners will add 140 jobs to the region with a $17 million facility to manufacture and assemble solutions to eliminate air- and surface-based borne pathogens such as mold, bacteria, and viruses.
In Cook County, BASF recently announced a $70 million expansion of its Sparks facility, leading to 30 new jobs. Houston-based Renewable Biomass Group will create 60 jobs with the construction of a new $95 million wood pellet facility.
Orion Boatworks has selected Valdosta-Lowndes County for its new facility—a $3.5 million investment that will create 120 jobs. In Lake Park, Bates Precast Concrete will increase its footprint in Lowndes County with a $5 million expansion project.
A partnership with Colquitt EMC and Windstream will bring broadband access to some of the region’s most rural areas during the next several years.
Now more than ever, it’s important to promote South Georgia as a great place to live, work, and play. We thank our advertisers for helping us continue to tell South Georgia’s story!