At a crossroads
Cathy Allman says she isn't sure how she'll get by if the Storehouse Daily Broad Ministry has to close.
Allman, who had knee-replacement surgery last fall and now walks with the help of a cane, gets by on a limited disability income, which she says barely covers the bills. The bag of groceries she gets each Monday from Storehouse Daily Bread Ministry helps feed her and her 17-year old grandaughter.
"I've been coming here for the past three years," Allman, 56, said as she arrived at the food pantry Monday with her friend Ruth Adams. "It really helps. I don't know what I'll do."
Crossroads Community Church runs the pantry. Both have occupied a large portion of a 40,000-square-foot building on Morganton Boulevard for free since 2010, originally with the permission of property owner James Taylor. But in September 2012 the Bank of Granite -- now CommunityOne Bank -- foreclosed on the property and several others owned by Taylor. The church and food pantry were not made to move, but the bank recently said it now has a buyer, who wants the building vacated. CommuniteOne sent Pastor Rick Bowman a letter two weeks ago setting May 14 as the deadline to leave.
Bowman said he's hoping for an injunction to stop the eviction process, and on Monday he sent CommunityOne a letter requesting a 90-day extension to allow the church and pantry to find a new home.
"We're not against the bank or anybody else. We're hopeful the ministry will go on. I believe God will allow us to keep on," he said. "Where, we don't know."
The pantry serves 8,000 individuals a month, said Felicia Bowman, pantry director. In 2013, the pantry distributed more than 1 million pounds of food, an average of nearly 10 tons a week.
About 17 percent of Caldwell County residents, nearly a third of them children, do not get enough food, said Jenny Moore of Second Harvest Food Bank of Western North Carolina, which helps supply about 20 food pantries in the county, including Storehouse.
"The system is already strained," she said. "A loss like this is significant."
If no extension is granted and the church isn't out after Wednesday, the property owner would need to go to court to seek eviction, and a court date would be set, said Tina Muniz, the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office civil administrative assistant, who deals with eviction papers. If a judge rules in favor of the property owner, the tenant would then have 10 days to leave, and after that date the property owner could seek an order for the sheriff's office to lock the building.