There’s a reason the working areas at SERVE Inc. “look like your teenager’s bedroom,” according to Executive Director Marilyn Stevens.
Space is so limited in the current building that boxes of cereal and cases of green beans are packed as tightly as the canned meat—corned beef, tuna and salmon—that’s always in demand. By the time the group’s 35 regular volunteers are crammed into the storage and packing areas, where they put together boxes for 350 to 400 families each month, “it gets really crowded,” said Diane Nolan, president of SERVE’s board of directors.
All that will change in coming weeks.
SERVE, which stands for Stafford Emergency Relief through Volunteer Efforts, is on the verge of opening a new warehouse. The building is a stone’s throw behind its current facility and will provide 1,500 square feet of space. SERVE owns about half an acre off Upton Lane, across from the Stafford Courthouse.
The larger building will give volunteers more room to maneuver and store donated food, which means SERVE will be able to expand its mission of providing people with their most basic needs.
“This is going to be wonderful,” Nolan said.
As food pantries go, SERVE is an icon of the Fredericksburg region and has helped its neighbors since 1979. It distributed almost 102 tons of food to 1,193 families last year and currently gives about 11.5 tons a month.
Yet, it operates in the Stafford Courthouse area, in the heart of a county considered one of the 10 wealthiest in the nation, according to Forbes magazine. Stafford’s median household income is $98,721, the highest of any in the Fredericksburg region, according to the U.S. Census.
Clearly, SERVE brings together distinctly different groups.