Jones County September 2023


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

In Jones County, the Extra Miles Tour made a stop at the Filling Station in Pollocksville. The nonprofit is appropriately named, as its goal is to provide for the unmet spiritual, nutritional and development needs of Jones County residents.

Founded by Pollocksville Presbyterian Church in 2017, the Filling Station is located in a building once used by a propane company to fill tanks. Warning signs featuring the number 1075 adorn the walls, signifying the Department of Transportation’s designation for propane. The Filling Station’s founders made the connection to Psalm 107:5, which reads: “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.” In that moment, a mission was born – but it wasn’t propane tanks that would be filled, it would be bellies, and hearts and minds.

The Filling Station’s food pantry opened in September 2018, one week before Hurricane Florence devastated much of the area. The disaster required an immediate response, as Pollocksville Mayor Jay Bender asked the Filling Station to act as a disaster relief center. The Filling Station provided aid to 10,000 residents, powered by 100 volunteers and many more donors. As the county healed, the Filling Station solidified its role as a community resource.

Services and programs are expansive, including nutrition education (including programs for seniors), classes on basic computer skills, aid for women transitioning out of shelters, cooking and nutrition instruction and even a leadership academy. One of the Filling Station’s main goals is to connect people in need with the appropriate resources, including connecting local farmers to people dealing with food insecurity.

For a region that boasts a significant agricultural industry, hunger is a major problem. One reason is that many of the farms are growing food for livestock rather than people. The animal feed business is profitable, making it hard to convince farmers to switch to growing produce suitable for dinner tables rather than feed troughs.

The Filling Station is addressing “nutrition insecurity” in addition to food insecurity. Because “cheap food brings cheap health,” people need guidance on the right kinds of foods to eat; a nutritious diet is an investment that brings a return in the form of better health. But Pollocksville doesn’t have a lot of grocery store options, and the local dollar store carries very little in the way of fresh produce. A diet of processed foods is a recipe for chronic health problems. The Filling Station believes education is a crucial starting point to changing the way people think about nutrition.

Like most nonprofits, the Filling Station is working to ultimately put itself out of business, to reach a point when its services are no longer needed. That dream is still on the horizon, and for now, the Filling Station will continue to serve as a community hub, connecting Jones County residents to the right resources at the right time.