Challenge Accepted


More than $210,000 raised for Food Bank of Northeast Georgia in less than a week. 

  • Photo Courtesy Jenna Valsvil
    Photo Courtesy Jenna Valsvil

CLAYTON—When a small group of Lake Burton families issued a challenge to the community last week, they were hoping to raise as much as $100,00 for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. 

The goal was not only met, it was smashed.

As of Monday afternoon, organizers reported that $210,000 has been donated to the Food Bank, and the money continues to pour in.

“We are deeply grateful,” said Executive Director Chuck Toney. “This will buy a lot of food for a lot of people. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in this area.”

Toney said the money will go towards purchasing enough food for upwards of 800,000 individual meals.

“Our needs are up at least 20-25 percent, based on what the agencies we serve need,” he added. The Food Bank helps supply food for distribution efforts throughout the area.

“There’s no more fundamental act of kindness than feeding someone who is hungry,” Toney added. “We’re seeing a lot of people who are new to the food distribution program. They’ve never had a need to worry about where the next meal for their family would come from.”

The fundraising effort started last week, when an anonymous group offered to match any donations to the Food Bank on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $50,000.

"The loss of a single shift of work or the absence of just one paycheck due to this pandemic can stretch financial resources dangerously thin," said a letter that was distributed in the community. "We are all under some stress at this time; imagine being stressed with uncertainty about where your next meal will come from."

The Northeast Georgia Food Bank, located in Clayton, is a non-profit organization, and all contributions are tax deductible.

The Food Bank served 2,500 area families per month prior to the COVID-19 epidemic. They provide food through several other Rabun agencies and numerous local churches. The Food Bank is currently at a food distribution pace three times what they were just 30 days ago. The current pantry is all but barren and resources are running low, the letter stated.

Rabun Gap Presbyterian Church is one of several local agencies that relies on the Food Bank for their food distribution outreach.

Pastor Don Barber said Tuesday the church has partnered with the Food Bank to serve Rabun County for 15 years, and has done so monthly since 2006. RGPC is the 4th largest distributor of food out of more than 240 agencies in North Georgia. 

“Last year was about 850,000 lbs and over $500,000 worth of food, thanks to the Food Bank,” Barber said. “It’s only because of the work of the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia we can serve our neighbors in need. The third Saturday of each month at Rabun Gap Presbyterian, you can see great love and great need. As Christians, we are called to love God and our neighbors. As an agency of the North Georgia Food Bank, we--through generous financial support, and our incredible volunteers’ hard work--can provide great food that is needed and dignity that is deserved. 

While the match challenge ended April 10, donations are still being accepted. Each donation, large or small, can make a difference for local families.

To help, go to, click DONATE, then under OPTION make sure you click the Rabun County box. In the blank space under “please include a name if this is in memory of someone,” put Burton COVID Response, or BCR

If you wish to send a check, please note in the memo space that it is for Burton COVID Response and send it to this address:

Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

46 Plaza Way

Clayton, Ga. 30525