“We’ve been here over 42 years addressing basic needs,” said Darlene Duke, executive director. Services include a food pantry, clothing closet and financial aid.
Churches, businesses, civic groups, schools and other organizations support C.A.M.P., a grassroots organization at 6289 Veterans Memorial Highway, No. 12-A in Austell. “We are a unique coalition of the community. It is truly the community coming together to try to address the needs,” she said.
The need for C.A.M.P. in the community is great. Duke said Austell has the lowest capital income in Cobb County.
“The unemployment rate is 16 percent here when it’s 10 percent in the rest of the state. It’s a very oppressed area,” she said.
CA.M.P. works to bring food security to the community. Duke said 28 percent of Georgia’s children live with food insecurity. She said, “That means that they don’t know for sure where their next meal is coming from. I’m sure in this part of Cobb County, it’s worse.
“We don’t just offer a Band-Aid for emergency food three or four times a year. We don’t limit the number of people we serve in a day. If you come and we’re open, we will serve food and will give you a significant amount of food,” Duke said.
In 2010 with a $500,000 budget, C.A.M.P. gave away more than 1.1 million pounds of food. An average family receives about 100 pounds of food.
“You can get food from us every 30 days as long as you have a need. That is the USDA restriction,” she said.
C.A.M.P. also assists people applying for food stamps in their office without having to go to DFCS. “We really are trying to bring food security to our neighbors,” Duke said. “The need is so great. People don’t realize that there are people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
C.A.M.P. helps people with clothing and hygiene items that cannot be obtained with food stamps. Duke estimated that C.A.M.P. distributed 160,000 items in 2010.
C.A.M.P., run by three full-time and seven part-time employees along with 250 volunteers, also offers a homeless prevention service including rent and utility assistance that is funded 100 percent through grants.
“This is a universal story with nonprofit organizations. More and more people who have never had to seek assistance before have to come see us because they’re at the end of their ropes,” Duke said.
Visit www.svcamp.org or call (770) 819-0662 for more information.