Utah Church Members Drive to Valley Food Bank with Donation

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Food delivery to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Food delivery to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Verona is a lot richer Thursday night, after a cross-country donation. It comes from Utah because leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ordered literal tons of food shipped to Virginia.

Thursday the food bank received the truck full of food - it's about 40,000 pounds - and this week, shipments of the same amount will also go to Richmond and Salem. It's part of the annual Day to Serve for Latter-day Saints.

It took truck driver John Lewellyn three days to get to the food bank, but he says it was worth the time.

"I just drove across Wyoming into Nebraska and down through Missouri and Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and into Virginia," he said.

He brings tomatoes, green beans, mac and cheese, rice, chili and much more to the many hungry Virginians.

"Forty-thousand pounds essentially equates to about 32,000 meals," said Michael McKee, CEO of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. "So what the Church did today is they just served dinner to 32,000 people in central and western Virginia. That's an extraordinary accomplishment."

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank feeds 113,000 people a month and since the recession, that number has climbed. That's where the church leaders stepped in.

"We're aware of the needs of our community. The priesthood leaders have requested assistance from the food banks because we see an increasing need to feed the local community and a decreasing supply of donations to the food banks," said Dr. Thomas Carter, stake president for the Waynesboro Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

From there, they'll distribute the supplies to area food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.

"This food will all be distributed within two weeks, and they will need more," Carter said.

The system runs on an army of volunteers, lots of donations, and generous hearts.

"It's wonderful because I get to help people. You know, I don't drive down the road to put a dollar in a CEO's pocket. I drive down the road to help my brothers and sisters," Lewellyn said.

They say even a donation of $1 covers several meals. So if you're interested in that or volunteering for the food bank, click here.