Christmas display leads to donation of 10,000 meals to NC food pantry

North Carolina news

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (WAVY) – In December WAVY.com introduced you to the Mennicucci family in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. We featured them in our sights of the season segment showcasing their more than 70,000 lights set to 14 different songs at their home. The family encouraged everyone to drive by, check out their display and then donate money and food. In turn, the Mennicucci’s would give all donations to the Beach Food Pantry in Kitty Hawk.

After the holiday season ended and the lights came down, the Mennicucci’s were floored by the numbers.

“It was such an overwhelming season I could cry. It was fabulous. We had 2,502 cars drive by and those cars donated $4,250 and 1,499 pounds of food,” said Deborah Mennicucci.

“That is over 10,000 meals and that comes out to about 240 people. So depending on the size of the families, you know, but 240 people is tremendous. I think you touched on it when you said ‘incredible.’ It’s incredible,” said Elisabeth Silverthorne, Executive Director of the Beach Food Pantry.

Silverthorne says numbers show so many more people than usual are in need during the pandemic. “According to Feeding America there’s been about a 60% increase in the number of people that are seeking help from food banks and food pantries, and there’s about 8 billion meals needed to meet the increased demand. We’ve certainly seen that here. We’ve had about 44% of our people this year that were new. So they were people that never needed to utilize the Food Pantry before and suddenly found themselves needing to, and we have been so lucky and blessed to be able to continue to serve during this time.”

The pandemic forced the Beach Food Pantry to cancel its two biggest fundraisers in 2020.

“Our donations decreased by about 50%, our retails donations, when everything first started, and then the other piece of it is that normally we would be able to order from local stores in order to help supplement and unfortunately their supply chains were disrupted and it meant that we weren’t able to place orders with them. Honestly we still can’t. We have to travel about four hours round trip to place an order. So, when product comes through the door, like when you collect 1,499 pounds of food, it’s tremendously helpful because it gives us something we are able to put out immediately and then to supplement from there,” said Silverthorne.

She said now that the holidays are over, it’s important to still think about holding food drives. Silverthorne points out donations go down when holidays are over.

To learn more about how you can help the Beach Food Pantry through donations or volunteering, click here.

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