Skyler Baldwin

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North Charleston’s Community Resource Center is keeping up the fight amid the coronavirus pandemic, distributing crate after crate of food to those in need, and in today’s economic climate, that can be just about anyone.

“We have a severe situation,” says Louis Smith, the center's executive director. “In our food line, we have people saying, ‘I never thought I would be in this line.’ That’s the kind of people this is impacting, what I call the solid middle class, and you can’t mess with them because they’re the backbone of America.”

Every Wednesday, he and his team of volunteers and partners set up stacks of crates full of fresh produce and goods to be organized and sorted into boxes with at least three days worth of food. Around noon, cars begin lining the street out front, often wrapping around the block waiting.

Serving more than 13,000 people in April by their count and gearing up to do the same in May, Smith and his crew have their workflow down pat. Volunteers from the Omega Psi Phi fraternity helped move crates of food to people’s vehicles Wednesday morning.

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“We are constantly in service,” says Adonis Jenkins. “We understand that it is each of our duty to help those in need. We live by a motto, ‘Lifting as we climb,'" he says. "I give my hand to that guy, that woman, that child, and bring them up to where we want to have them be as well.”

The idea of community support and service is recognized by many of those who come to collect their food. One of those who stopped by, Raynard Baker, said that though he hasn’t felt some of the more potent blights of the coronavirus, it’s his community that’s suffering.

“Well, I’m unemployed, so it’s affected me personally as far as income is concerned,” Baker explains. “But with this pandemic, people need food, people are unemployed, and the impact in the community as a whole was much stronger.”

Located near North Charleston's Horizon Village, the CRC's programs have grown over the past year to a point that Smith describes as an explosion.

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“We were here because of the food desert,” Smith remembers. “But now with this pandemic, we are not just feeding the needy, we are feeding Charleston.”

For Smith and some of his partners, it wasn’t enough just to provide food to those without. But they wanted those stopping by to be sent home with the means to create nutritional meals out of what they find in their boxes.

“The Lowcountry Food Bank has been extremely good for us, and we certainly have enough stuff to meet the needs. We try to give them enough for at least three days. We want them to have enough food, but we also want them to have nutrition.”