Nonprofit looks to expand services in Leland

By Makenzie Holland, StarNews Staff
Oct 11, 2017

StarNews article copyright © 2017 GateHouse Media LLC

Brunswick Family Assistance wants to open a full-time office in Leland, which would include access to a food pantry five days a week.

LELAND — Beth Lewis opened the doors of the Leland community building at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Within 30 minutes, she had provided emergency assistance to five people.

Lewis is a part-time employee of Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA), a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to low-income people and families in Brunswick County. While BFA’s main office is in Shallotte, the organization operates a satellite office twice a week in Leland at the county-owned community building off Village Road.

BFA is hoping to change that model soon. The nonprofit wants to expand and open a full-time office in Leland that would serve northern Brunswick County.

Brunswick Family Assistance volunteer Claire Wexler helps a woman apply for the organization’s Christmas program, which provides toys to families in need. [Photo: Makenzie Holland/StarNews]

The desire to expand and open an office in Leland stems from an increase in demand for services by Leland and other northern Brunswick County residents at BFA’s Shallotte office, said Stephanie Bowen, executive director.

One of the main services BFA hopes to provide at a full-time office is a food pantry, something the organization cannot currently offer at the satellite office.

Bowen said BFA provided $67,884 worth of services to Leland area residents in 2016, $14,510 of which was food assistance. Bowen said BFA distributed 10,219 pounds of food to over 300 households.

“We’ve seen a huge demand for our services in the 28451 zip code,” Bowen said.

Manna Ministries of Leland and First Baptist Church of Leland both operate food pantries, but on limited schedules.

First Baptist Church’s Food Bank Ministry is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month, while Manna Ministries distributes food on the fourth Saturday of each month except for November and December, when they distribute on the third Saturday.

Jay Merritt with Manna Ministries said the organization started in 2008 prepared to serve 100 families each month, a goal that has since increased to 125.

Distribution week for the organization entails placing an order for about 1,200 pounds of fresh meat and 1,200 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Other food items are donated by local individuals, churches and organizations.

On distribution day, Merritt said Manna Ministries usually serves 100 to 125 families in about two hours, with each family averaging about four people.

Bowen said BFA’s goal would be to supplement services existing organizations already provide. By opening a Leland office, BFA would be able to provide residents access to a food pantry five days a week.

“Our goal is never to duplicate services, it’s always to try and fill any gaps that we see,” Bowen said.

BFA already plans to increase Leland services to three days a week instead of two, with a goal of moving to the five day a week office with a pantry as soon as the organization secures sufficient funding, said William Hadesty, chairman of the BFA board of directors.

BFA’s goal is to be operational in the full-time Leland office by early to mid-2018.

Reporter Makenzie Holland can be reached at 910-343-2371 or

StarNews article copyright © 2017 GateHouse Media LLC

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