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As part of its Terraprint initiative, Terrapin Brewing Co. is expanding its community impact with the creation of a mobile food pantry in partnership with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
Located behind the brewery, the food pantry is open on the third Monday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. Russel Stalvey discussed the effect of the pantry.
The Red & Black: What did the process entail for collaborating with the food bank to produce and operate a food pantry?
Russel Stalvey: I’d known a lot of the people at the food bank over the years, so it was a pretty easy setup. Of course we were nervous the first time or two, like, what if we do this wrong? It takes us about 30 to 40 minutes to have everything set and ready and about 20 boxes stacked and ready to go. As the people drive up, one person is taking the names and filling out the paperwork and then two others are placing food in the car while others are continuously packing the boxes. It’s just a flow.
R&B: Do you see this pantry as a long-term space for Athens residents or potentially expanding to include more dates throughout the month?
RS: We’re going to keep it as it is for now because the need is still there. It’s a volunteer base, so it would be kind of hard to do it more than once a month. [Volunteering] has all been internally, but we would love to have folks that would like to volunteer and help with the process.
But if the need grows, what we would probably do is give more food. Right now, I think we’re in a good spot with 15,000 pounds of food [per month].
R&B: Having grown up in Athens, does the work of this food pantry especially have an impact on you?
RS: We have a high level of poverty in Athens. We have a lot of food deserts where people may not have transportation to get to fresh or even canned products.
At Terrapin, we don’t see ourselves as just being in Athens or being a part of Athens. We are Athens. It’s where we live, it’s where our children go to school, it’s where we shop, we live here, we play here. It’s just part of our fabric, so we have to acknowledge all the parts of who Athens is and make sure that we are doing what we can to put a positive imprint on our community.
R&B: How impactful is the food pantry to the community at large?
RS: The thought that anyone’s going to bed hungry in our country or in our city is inexcusable. To me, we should have figured this out by now. Yes, we make beer and we love what we do, but we also consider this to be bigger than beer. Our calling is higher than our title here. The vulnerable in our society could be us. It could be our family, but it shouldn’t even matter if it was.
Everyone needs to have food to eat, and if we can help provide that when it’s not possible for our community, then we’re happy to be that.