Harvest Tyme helps local farmers feed their community

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Since 1996, Harvest Tyme Food Ministries has been providing healthier foods and local food processing to Lowndes, Jefferson, Butler, Montgomery, Macon, and Tallapoosa counties.

The nonprofit operates in Fort Deposit, connecting farmers to much-needed business resources and helping them feed veterans, the elderly, and others in the local community.

For Christmas, the ministry provides fruit baskets and hot meals for veterans and the elderly who need food assistance.

“Right now, we mostly cater to providing hot meals for veterans and the elderly,” said President Debbie Bryant. “When we are able to get funds and money to operate our trucks we have monthly food distributions, giving out 20,000 pounds of food.”

Bryant said volunteers and workers who serve as waiters deliver hot food plates in Montgomery County and surrounding areas.

Daily donations from local Starbucks locations also help them support homeless women and children with weekly meals.

Bryant formerly worked with the United States Department of Agriculture, as an advocate for families and children in mental health and welfare systems. Her work with the USDA inspired her desire to help Alabama families by purchasing food from local farmers to feed families in need.

Bryant’s late husband, Roger, was a Vietnam veteran, who worked with youth and local farmers before his death in 2021. Together, the couple sought to connect the farming community to help veterans and families needing help throughout their community.

The ministry operates the only food bank in the area, Bryant said. Harvest Tyme’s program is a hub of several programs for special needs citizens, veterans, youth, adults, and disabled students to learn skills that are centered around their needs.

Renovations are currently underway to convert 18,000 square feet of warehouse space to a training center.

“We’re putting together a group of teachers who specialize in training children with special needs,” Bryant said. “We’re going to continue the food bank.”

Ministries have been hit hard since COVID-19, Bryant said, and Harvest Tyme hasn’t received the donations they once did.

“I thank the (Lowndes) County Commission, Mr. [Joseph] Barganier and Mr. [Joshua] Simmons,” Bryant said. “They have wrapped around our program since 2019. But we’re not getting as many donations as we did. We don’t charge a dime for our services or the food.”

Bryant said the ministry hopes to develop onsite and online training in business ownership, media production, farming and product marketing and other career skills.

Plans for a wash plant and community kitchen which would provide employment and job skills training have been delayed since COVID hit, but organizers continue to pursue funding to implement those projects.

The ministry needs volunteers willing to cook and serve a Christmas meal for veterans and elderly residents on Dec. 20.

To volunteer, contact Mattie Peterson at (334) 227-4339 or Debbie Bryant at (334) 590-6620.