In response to growing need, Tri-area ministry opens for Saturday hours

— Lisa Brown • • March 2017

As the region grows, the need to offer food to those in need also grows. Awareness of that need has prompted one local organization, Tri-Area Ministry Food Pantry (TAMFP), to open its doors for one Saturday morning a month.


(Left to right) Joe Vartanesian, Carolyn Rogers, Leslie DuBois and Jerry Bender
pose in front of the new refrigeration unit.

“We heard from many people that because they found jobs, they could not come during the week,” said Joe Vartanesian, chairman of the nonprofit, non-denominational organization that serves the towns of Wake Forest, Rolesville and Youngsville along with Wake County. “We wanted to offer them a chance to receive groceries at a more convenient time.”

The third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. was added to the busy days of Monday and Wednesday mornings. Response has been slow, but as the word gets out, the pantry is hopeful traffic will increase. With more than 45 active volunteers and donations coming in at a steady pace, the pantry is ready to handle the growing need and demand.

Volunteer Lisa Groeschner started four weeks ago and is enjoying the experience and everyone she works with and meets at the pantry.

“I wanted to help and make a difference. I’ve learned a lot about hunger and found out that there is also a big need for other things,” Groeschner said.

Tri-Area Ministry Food Pantry

A group of volunteers takes a break from duties.

One of those needs is for feminine hygiene products, items that are not covered under assistance programs. In front of the pantry, a chalkboard tells the greatest current needs, and feminine products have been high on the list. So have cereal and baby food.

Lowes Food on Capital Boulevard in Wake Forest is the pantry’s number one donor, supporting the cause for years by donating food and recently allowing the TAMFP to hold a hot dog fundraiser in front of the store. The hot dogs and buns were donated by Lowes, and all proceeds went to TAMFP. This partnership is one of the many the pantry relies on.

The money raised is going solely to purchasing produce. With recent grant money, the pantry was able to purchase a refrigeration unit that will house perishables, something the pantry has not been able to offer.

Tri-Area Ministry Food Pantry

Veteran volunteer Gene Schulz and new volunteer Lisa Groeschner take a moment to share their experiences.

Leslie Dubois, a seasoned fundraiser before joining TAMFP as the fundraising chair, is planning a gala event on October 20 to raise funds to purchase more perishables, especially produce. DuBois aims to make this an annual event with area businesses providing goods and services for a blind auction.

“We have an initiative to have healthier food options, including produce, milk, eggs and cheese. This fundraiser is just for this,” DuBois said.

Another volunteer, Gene Schulz, has been with Tri-Area Ministry for 21 years and has witnessed the need grow. He is happy to be a part of a dynamic team of volunteers who are so dedicated to the cause.

“God blesses us all in different ways,” Schulz said. “I believe this was part of God’s will for me, and I am called to do it.”

“There is always a line out the door on Monday and Wednesdays,” Groeschner said.

With added hours, all the volunteers are certain the same will be the case on the third Saturday of the month.