After waking up from a 48-day coma, Terri Lou Salmon, prayed to God asking that if he’d let her be able to walk again, she’d help anyone who needed it, especially when it came to food. She fulfilled that promise in a big way.

“When I came back to church, our preacher said that he wanted to do a food pantry and asked if I would be interested in setting it up,” she said. “We started with just a small shelf and a table. Now we have a full room set aside for the pantry plus the milk cooler.”

The pantry is possible through a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the generosity of church members and the community. Before Salmon could open the pantry through Second Harvest, she had to reach certain criteria, namely, they had to have a working refrigerator and freezer, maintain pest control. Bill Warlick donated a brand-new deep freezer and a refrigerator. He also donated two heavy duty push carts that hold up to 900 pounds of products. Buddy and JoAnne Sigmon donated curtains for the windows. The pantry opened in 2018.

The pantry also received a grant for a milk cooler from the Dairy Alliance and Piedmont Dairy in Lincolnton. It’s filled up every other week with milk, other dairy products like butter and cheese and eggs. The eggs are donated in large part by Madison Weaver, who donated 40 dozen in February and 50 dozen in March. She gets these eggs from her grandparents, Allen and Reba Hoyle. Melissa Pratt and her daughter Niki and Jim Long also donate eggs.

“We have a plan to partner in the future with Robert Sain who is a retired Lutheran minister,” Salmon said. “He lives in his parent’s home and they have greenhouses. He’s starting to grow vegetables. He said with the greenhouses, he can give us fresh vegetables throughout the year.”

Salmon isn’t always able to source everything she needs to stock the pantry so each week, she lists items needed in the church bulletin and members donate them. She’s also applied for and received other grants to help keep the pantry full and the church frequently has breakfasts, lunches and hot dog sales to help with funding. There will be a hot dog and yard sale at Daniels on April 10 to raise money to restock shelves and the milk cooler.

“Our church supports it, and our members donate,” she said. “During 2020, the average cost to stock the pantry was $340 per month. That was before the milk cooler was delivered.”

The pantry gives out donations the second and the fourth Wednesday of each month from 7-7:45 p.m. It’s not necessary to sign up in advance, but basic information must be provided prior to pick-up, such as the recipient’s name and address, how many are in the family and an income level. To date, the pantry has served 404 families and 1,171 individuals.

As a retired schoolteacher from Union Elementary, Salmon has been vested in the community for decades. 

“I feel like God wants me to do this,” she said. “I have a lot of help now too.”

Daniels Lutheran Church is located at 3170 Reepsville Road in Lincolnton. For more information, please call (704) 735-2388.

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