Due to COVID-19, the New Frontier of Bartow County’s pre-Thanksgiving outreach has pivoted from serving a warm meal to distributing grocery store vouchers.
“People still need help, especially during a pandemic,” New Frontier of Bartow County Secretary Trey Benham said. “We felt giving out grocery store vouchers would be a safe and efficient way to provide a little bit of relief.
“We knew with just a short amount of time to raise money and get the word out we wouldn't be able to serve as many people that we see at the dinner. With that said, a little help and community outreach is better than doing nothing at all.”
On Saturday, Frontiersmen will distribute the vouchers to those in need at Cartersville’s two Ingles stores and Publix at 10 a.m. on a first come, first serve basis.
“Eligibility will be determined in a number of ways, including providing proof of being a SNAP, TANF or WIC recipient,” Benham said. “The vouchers are $25 for predetermined items and are only good for this Saturday.
“It was a last-minute decision to switch to vouchers so we are still raising funds. The total number of vouchers given out will be determined by any additional donations given this week.”
Those wanting to place a donation or learn more details about the voucher effort need to contact Dexter Benning at 404-201-5579.
“The decision to cancel this year's dinner was a hard, long thought-out process,” Benham said. “After several weeks of discussions and logistics planning, it was decided that the best decision would be to skip this year's dinner.
“This would've been the 20th Feed the Community Dinner, so we wanted it to be special. For the safety of everyone involved, the guests, volunteers and Frontiersmen, we just didn't feel comfortable going forward with any of our discussed plans. Now that cases are starting to rise again, I feel we made the best decision.”
In past years, the New Frontier’s Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael Dean served about 2,000 people. The gathering also provided various complimentary services, such as haircuts and health screenings.
“The dinner is all about bringing our community together,” Benham said. “People from different walks of life, cultures and races. We cherish the opportunity to not only feed the hungry but fellowship with our neighbors and that is what I will miss most. The connections made are incredible.”
With its name, the gathering pays tribute to the late Michael Dean, the civic organization’s former president, who passed away in 2011.
“Initially, when Trey Benham broke the news to me, I was heartbroken because I know what this means to me, my family and so many people in our community,” Dean’s son, Todd, said. “However, it is more important for us to take care of each other during these unprecedented times.”