Servant’s Heart Sees Sharp Increase In Need For Assistance

Servant's Heart is currently conducting all business curbside.
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Servant’s Heart of Mint Hill has seen a sharp increase in food going out their door in the past month.  In a typical month, Servant’s Heart doles out an average of $1,275 in food from their Emergency Food Pantry.  From March 1 through April 2, that number more than doubled as they gave out $3,085 in food. In addition to distributing food from their Emergency Food Pantry, Servant’s Heart is currently managing the distribution of food from Loaves and Fishes.  Drawing a large percentage of their volunteers from populations most at risk from COVID-19, Loaves and Fishes felt they could no longer remain open as of mid-March.

At one point last week, cars were lined up from the front doors of Servant’s Heart all the way to Lawyers Road to pick up their 1-week supply of food.

“Loaves and Fishes asked Servant’s Heart to pick up the baton, to be the entity that gets Loaves and Fishes food out to people in the community,” clarifies Rhodarmer.  “That’s why we’re distributing their food. We’ve been doing that since the 19th of March, and we’ve given out $8,280 from Loaves and Fishes since just then. We’ve given out a total of $11,365 in food over the last four weeks.”

Rhodarmer feels the fear associated with scarcity is at the root of the current increase.  “Our clients are walking into grocery stores with their food stamp cards, and they’re seeing empty shelves,” says Rhodarmer.  “It takes them to an immediate place of fear: food is gone, and I don’t have enough money to buy food like all the people I see around me.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has tightened many families’ pockets, but the crisis is particularly acute for the clients’ Rhodamer serves, who were already living paycheck to paycheck and relying on assistance to make ends meet. “They don’t have the money to buy food even if they can find it. They’re afraid for their income,” continues Rhodarmer. “They wonder if they’ll continue to get the hours they’ve been getting or when they’ll get laid off.  They’re afraid for their health, which is a concern most of us share, but when you don’t have insurance and you don’t have the ability to pay to go to the doctor when you get sick, it’s another whole level.”

The increase in need has left Servant’s Heart in dire need of donations to replenish their dwindling food and nonfood pantries.  Right now the vast majority of the food Servant’s Heart is giving out is from Loaves & Fishes.  Rhodarmer is concerned that their Emergency Food Pantry will empty fast if they stop getting food boxes from them as they have no backstock.  For the food pantry, they can use any canned meat – especially meats other than tuna, like beef, chicken and ham – rice, muffin and cornbread mix, fruit juices, and breakfast items like pancake mix, grits, and oatmeal.

It’s critical that Servant’s Heart restock for the surge of need Rhodarmer feels is coming in April and May, a point at which she expects people will literally empty their pantries and be in dire need of food.  “I think unfortunately more people are going to be potentially losing their jobs, and with it, their income and their ability to purchase food at stores,” says Rhodarmer.  

While restocking the food pantry is critical, Rhodarmer feels it’s equally important to focus on restocking Servant’s Hearts nonfood pantry.  Focusing on supplying clients with twenty-five specific items used on a daily or weekly basis that are not covered by food stamps, Servant’s Heart’s nonfood pantry is a unique resource in the Charlotte area.  In a typical month, Servant’s Heart doles out about $2,849 in nonfood pantry items. In the past month, they’ve seen nearly a 25% increase in nonfood items going out the door, distributing $3,518 in goods from the nonfood pantry.

“We need just about every item we typically stock in that pantry,” says Rhodarmer.  Particularly useful are toilet paper, kleenex, and any cleaning products that kill 99.9% of germs – hand soap, laundry detergent, any household cleaning items.  “Something that we’re going to run out of this week is the disinfecting wipes,” she continues. “I think we have one container of those left, and then we’ll be completely out.”

Of course, everyone is struggling to find items like toilet paper and Clorox wipes, but Rhodarmer reminds people that her clients’ situation is different.  They may not have reliable transportation to shop; they certainly can’t afford to pay a premium. Moreover, Rhodarmer reminds people that Duke Energy and Union Power Cooperative have pledged not to disconnect anyone through mid-April, but what happens after that is uncertain.  People already struggling to stay above water may face halted utilities and eviction. 

“Whatever that end date is, that’s when people are going to need financial assistance in greater measure than ever before,” guesses Rhodarmer.  In addition to restocking the food and nonfood pantries, Rhodarmer has been preparing for this influx by writing grants, ensuring that Servant’s Heart has the financial resources to help these people through their bill pay assistance program.

If you would like to help Servant’s Heart meet this need, contact  A full list of needed items is available at  All of Servant’s Heart’s work is happening curbside right now with extra precautions to protect both volunteers and those receiving services.  Donations are currently being accepted on Thursdays between 1:00 and 3:00.

If you are in need of assistance, contact rochelle@servantsheartorg or call 703-680-6533 x 4.  Rochelle can help you to understand what services are available to you and how you can qualify.  “We are here. We are ready to help,” assures Rhodarmer. “For anyone who needs help just get in touch with us.”

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her five-year-old daughter Hannah and her two-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: