Southside Electric Cooperative, whose service area includes Bedford County near Smith Mountain Lake, has made donations to 24 food banks across its service territory, an outreach to help area residents who are hungry or unsure about their next meals.

The contributions of $500 each were made around Christmas. They went to large and small food pantries spread around the cooperative’s 18-county service area.

Donations included Lake Christian Ministries in Moneta and Bedford Christian Ministries.

“Unfortunately, many families face hunger and food insecurity every day, problems that have worsened during COVID-19 and its related economic downturn. Community food banks are on the front lines helping these families. The cooperative wants to support their important work and hopes these donations will replenish their shelves as they provide nutritious meals for area residents struggling to have enough to eat,” said Lloyd Lenhart, SEC’s director of community relations.

Feed America estimated that 842,870 Virginians, including 233,530 children, struggled with hunger in 2020. A February 2020 online article in Morning Ag Clips was headlined, “Food insecurity more prevalent in rural areas, major cities.”

“In this season of giving, SEC wants to help those who are hungry and, at the same time, share with them the joy of Christmas and the hope for a better future,” Lenhart said.

SEC stated that these donations were the latest in its efforts to reach out to its neighbors. In November, the cooperative donated $7,500, which was matched by banking partner CoBank, resulting in a $15,000 donation to Farmville Area Community Emergency Services (FACES). In early December, SEC employees donated canned goods and other nonperishables to the cooperative’s annual Christmas drive to support community food banks. SEC Community Relations Coordinator Joy Stump served as Prince Edward Christmas Mother this year, helping provide hats, gloves, toys, books and other items to more than 250 area children. Throughout 2020, SEC made other contributions to assist food banks in the service area.

“It is such a joy to help others at Christmas and throughout the year. This year has been especially difficult for so many families because of COVID-19 and the related job cutbacks,” Stump said. “Helping our communities is part of the foundation at SEC. I truly appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the team doing that.”

Southside Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit, member-owned electric distribution company that started in 1937, has 57,700 services across 18 counties in central and southern Virginia. SEC sponsors events, donates to school programs, offers scholarships and supports nonprofits, like food banks.

Read more stories in the upcoming issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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