Walking through the door at the NOVA Branch of the Capital Area Food Bank, Phyllis Inscoe declares, “I’m getting too old for this!” It is said in all seriousness. But she worries about who will take on the work of the food pantry if she retires.
Every week she maneuvers her purple walker to choose canned goods and fresh produce for the pantry she helps to manager. Phyllis is 76 years old and travels to the Northern Virginia Branch of the Capital Area Food Bank to pick up food for the families and children who visit her food pantry at Dale City Church of Christ, located in Woodbridge, VA. Making the journey with her is her “Right-Hand Woman,” Ana Rojas. Two years ago, Ana walked into the pantry and said, “My husband was just in an accident and I have three children. Can you help me?” Phyllis was able to help, and Ana never left. Ana now helps out with all aspects of the food pantry which allows her to give back to the place that helped her in a time of need.
Last September, Phyllis came down with pneumonia and has not returned since. Her first worry on the way to the hospital emergency room was not about herself or her medical condition. She wondered who would feed the families who were depending on her. She is now on her way back to good health but it’s a slow process, slower than she would like because she has a food pantry to run and hungry people to feed.
Like many of the agencies served by the NOVA Branch, resources are being stretched more than ever before. Some of our smaller agencies are being run on sheer will, determination and love by older, retired members of a church who have been doing their jobs for ever. It is taken for granted that they will always be there and able to meet the growing numbers of families who desperately need food.
During the average week, Dale City feeds over 80 families. At Thanksgiving, several members of the church stepped up to help Ana and Phyllis’s daughter JQ, to provide 141 turkey dinners, complete with sides, bread and dessert for families in need.
Although the number varies, the food pantry usually has 4 to 20 volunteers who pack bags of food, make deliveries and handle the distribution when families come to pick up the food. Phyllis is a strong advocate and fundraiser for her clients, stating that she has no problem walking around with her hand out, accepting food or money she desperately needs to support the food pantry.