ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) Thursday evening, News 8 was told 600 tons of donated food from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is delayed due to protests in the region by prominent Church member Michelle Huckaby-Vierk who lives in Rochester.
Kelsey Coles, a director for the Church, reached out and told News 8 the shipments are in limbo, but it’s not due to the protests. She says the trucks stopped to help aide other areas, and the food is coming at a later date. Coles added, “We do anticipate their arrival within the next few weeks.”
Vierk disagrees on the reasoning behind the holdup. “The trucks have been turned around back to Salt Lake (City). So it’s been halted,” she says. “Until the unrest stops, then people will get their food and the trucks can come here safely,” adds Vierk.
Even though roads are navigable during the day and most are at night, Vierk and her team says the national attention on the protests stopped the truckers from delivering to the distribution centers here.
Places like the House of Mercy, one of a dozen area food pantries getting goods, is hoping the shipments can get here soon.
“We have so many people we have to feed, and we run out of food,” says Sister Grace Miller with the House of Mercy.
Sister Grace says they are open 24/7 and feed thousands of homeless per year. Sister Rita Lewis says with winter approaching the dry food donations are critical of the cold months ahead.
“That’s my belief that it’s probably like rice and pasta and dried beans most likely,” says Lewis.
Charles Earlsey, the Director of Operations of the House of Mercy, says they have to currently feed 54 people inside three times a day, and about a hundred at the gates. “We were skimming by when the virus hit. But now that the virus has hit, we’re really having a problem,” he says.
Vierk, also an Army veteran who moved to Rochester and has deep roots in the region, says she has faith in America and the ability for all kinds of people to work things out. She’s hoping whatever might be the hold up gets worked out so people in need can get the food they need.
“I am a strong believer that things will come together. That negotiations at the roundtable will happen, so that we can continue to help people out,” she says.
The donation to 200 food pantries across New York State is in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Church of Latter-day Saints.
Rochester area recipients include: Attica Food Pantry, Barakah Muslim Charity, Brighton Food Cupboard, Brockport Food Shelf, Cameron Community Ministries, Community Action Angels Food Pantry, Eastern Service Workers Association, FoodLink, Geneseo Food Pantry, House of Mercy, South Wedge Food Program, and the Warsaw Food Pantry.
The original announcement and more information can be found here.