Bless the Food Before Us: South Fork Provisions Provides Front Line Meals for First Responders
Story by Cindy Reid | Photos by Tonya Perry
Joe and Jennifer VanGiller opened South Fork Provisions- Prepared Meals to Go, Catering & Food Market in Rincon, Ga, just one year ago. Little did they know that by the end of the year they would be in the grip of an international pandemic and their business, along with millions of others, would essentially be “on pause.”
“My husband Joe and I are vessels doing what we are called to do,” Jennifer says, “Feeding people is a true Southern tradition. Food is invaluable and it is personal. I remember well when my mother passed away our church flooded us with food, and it was truly gratifying to be the recipient of such caring. In our business we want to be the middle person when events are happy or tragic because feeding people is from the heart.”
She says, “One year ago, we knew God was going to use us for something where we could bless others. My husband Joe has the gift to cook and God gave me the gift of gab! Together we can accomplish so much. We took the plunge and opened South Fork Provisions.”
Ten months later the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Like many working parents, Jennifer found herself managing work and home in an entirely new environment. She says, “I was juggling a business and being a Mom to our 8-year-old and 2-year-old. It was an exceedingly difficult time. We prayed hard, looking for our path forward.”
Front Line Meals “I first saw the idea of feeding first responders (emergency and medical personnel on the ‘front lines’) on Facebook on a post called “Meals for Medical” from Chatham County restaurants,” Jennifer says. “We prayed about it, and we felt this idea was placed on our hearts. The next step was to reach out to the local first responders in Effingham County.” And so Front Line was created.
Jennifer makes it clear that other local businesses have been providing meals as well. She says Chick-fil-A, Paddles Coffee and Café, Simply Southern Caterers, and El Real Mexican Restaurant have all been doing the same thing and providing meals to first responders throughout the county. She says, “We are part of a large local community of caring people who are doing whatever they can right now to support our front line personnel.”
On Easter Sunday, South Fork Provisions provided their first Front Line meal, bringing Easter dinner to the staff at Effingham Health System’s Emergency Room. Jennifer says, “We wanted to give these folks the comfort of a real Easter dinner, so we brought in Easter ham, mac n’ cheese, green beans and all the fixings.”
She says, “Every Front Line meal from South Fork Provisions consists of a main dish, salad, rolls, and sweet tea. BBQ is a favorite, and that’s Joe’s wheelhouse, but we also change it up with chicken alfredo, chicken tetrazzini and other hot entrees. We need to make sure food does more than simply satisfy hunger, it’s important to us that we are bringing comfort.”
Sponsorship Jennifer and Joe are grateful for all the donations and sponsorships that allow them to continue feeding the local Effingham County Front Line recipients. The cost of sponsoring a shift meal is $100, and they accept donations from $20 and up (see more information at the end of the article).
Meals are provided free of charge and South Fork Provisions makes no profit as all donations and sponsorship funds are used only on the cost of the meals. It is an opportunity for local businesses and individuals to contribute to their community in this time of need. Jennifer says they make a point to acknowledge the sponsors and donors by tagging them on social media and posting photos of the Front Line recipients receiving their meals. She says they see this is as a chance to build relationships that serve the community.
Front Line Recipients Front Line recipients include the Effingham Health System’s ER, sponsored by Darrel Hutcheson-State Farm Agent and the Mintz Family. Due to their generous donations, South Fork Provisions was able to provide meals for both day and night shifts. Additional meals at the ER were sponsored by Cam & Lindsey Clay and Brookstone Community Church. Medical staff at the Effingham Health System also received meals, made possible by the Counselman Family and Rincon Recovery Resources.
The Effingham ER staff, Rincon Fire Department and Rincon Police Department received meals sponsored by James and Tiffany Siegmund, GOL Security Rincon, GA, and The Ladies at Lonesome Oak Subdivision. Dedicated Lawn Care LLC sponsored dinner for the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and lunch for the Rincon Fire Department.
“This is the list of sponsors and it keeps growing! We have several other people that have donated funds that have been extremely helpful as well,” says Jennifer. “We wouldn’t be able to make this happen without the help from our community and we will continue to provide the Front Line Meals as long as sponsorship and donations continue to come in to help.”
A big thank you to the sponsors and donors listed above and these wonderful folks: Sweet and Sassy Stamps, Oglethorpe Mortgage, Yates-Astro of Rincon, New Life Florists, B Renewed Massage Therapy, Mintz Family, Renew Family, Ron Breth, Jessica Cook and Family, Rincon Baptist Temple, Philbeck Family, State Farm- Ashley Boyette, Rose Tebeau, Angela Bragg, Riggs Funeral Home, Wanderings Design & Décor, DeWitt Insurance, Effingham Health System ER staff, Rene LaGrange, James and Tina Dasher, Rincon Day Spa, MacMurray Family, Patricia Stearns, Gary and Shiloh Ferguson and the Maloney Family.
“Recently we were able to provide meals to every one of the six firehouses in Effingham County thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and donors, “says Jennifer, “so we put the family in the car, loaded up the food and drove from station to station! We saw parts of Effingham county we had never seen before and it was really special for our entire family to be part of something so gratifying.”
She says, “We get tons of ‘thank yous’ and blessings from the first responders and we try to convey them to our sponsors and donors. We are extremely blessed to meet all the people we have met throughout the program. We need to be needed and we are needed here.”
Going Forward Jennifer says her and Joe’s response to the Covid-19 crisis “evolved like a flower blooming and I am so very thankful. And we had great helpers. Our staff consists of three special teenagers—Abby, Landon, and Anna. They were troopers from the beginning; they really stepped up and have been amazing.”
She reports that currently “Business is good, we are steady. People were using our services to stock up and we provided a little relief but that is easing up. We have faith that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and it is a joy. It’s been such a crazy year, but it’s also been tremendously rewarding in so many ways we never could have foreseen.”
If South Fork Provisions has a motto it is “Bless the food before us, the family beside us and the love between us.” They have certainly proven themselves to be a blessing to the first responders of Effingham County.