When Loaves and Fishes, Alamance County's largest food distributor, closed it doors in August, many community members worried where they would get their next meal.

Allied Churches, a local food bank, stepped in to help out. This weekend they opened their first off-site food pantry for the community. A vacant store in Holly Hill Mall has become the new hub for this food bank.

Food Pantry Coordinator Shannon Smith was astonished by how much food came through the doors on Saturday, Oct. 25.

"Well, just from walking in at 10 o'clock and it being wonderful and amazing, I think today is going to be a great day," Smith said. "I think the community has really been looking for a way to outpour and give back."

Volunteers say 3,057 pounds of food from 43 groups and individuals lined the shelves before noon.

The shelves may have looked a little empty, but that's because this new pantry can hold 10 times the amount of food as the on-site location on Church Street and Webb Avenue.

"There's still people who need food, so this is just a way to continue to get the word out--to have an organized place for the food," Smith said. "We can do groups here. We can just continue on the path of serving others."

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Smith says Allied Churches knew it had to expand its services when Loaves and Fishes shut down. In addition to the new pantry, it started offering home-cooked meals twice a day. Smith worked with Loaves and Fishes before Allied Churches.

"I see those clients everyday who were at the old food pantry looking for help," she said.

Dozens came out to help on opening day, including Elon volunteers. Sophomore Aubrey Crawley had worked with Allied Churches for more than one year. She encourages more of the Elon community to get involved.

"It was great to see the same people every week and hear about how things are going," Crawley said. "If they are able to find housing, or find a job or just being goofy with them."

Smith says the help from students makes all the difference.

"If it wasn't for Elon really--I don't know what we would do," Smith said.

Smith also says Allied Churches served more than 1,000 people in September, and it's already helped 1,057 so far, this month. She says she expects those numbers to climb with two pantries up and running.