Wallace Food Bank Admits Asking Money From Those Getting Free Food

Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast NC says it is considering ending its relationship with a food bank in Duplin County due to reports of inappropriate donations being collected from people who are picking up free food.

The director of Sanctuary Project on East Main Street in Wallace, Kip Tomkin, says donations have been collected from people coming to pick up food, and she understands in some cases it might have not been done properly.

Tomkin says volunteers working at her store have asked for seven dollar donations because they figured out that's the amount it would take to keep the thrift store and food pantry running. She says she's asked those volunteers not to do that after Second Harvest deactivated her membership in early April.

A membership with Second Harvest allows food banks to receive donations from larger stores such as Walmart that have a relationship with Feed America and other nonprofits. The membership also allows food banks to shop at Second Harvest's food pantry for 7-19 cents a pound.

Sanctuary Project used to get regular donations from Walmart and Food Lion, but have been denied those donations from the stores recently. Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast NC Director Ron Pringle says Walmart contacted his group in September and ended its relationship with Sanctuary Project at that time citing word of inappropriate collection of money from clients.

Tomkin says she has been able to maintain the food pantry with donations from the community and other stores such as Piggly Wiggly. She says she used to open the food bank three days a week, but it can only open once a week, or less, now.

Second Harvest asked Tomkin and her board to meet so they can come up with a plan to properly collect donations in the community and reactivate the Sanctuary Project's membership with Second Harvest.

Tomkin says she will get her board together to meet with Second Harvest as soon as possible.

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