Each Thursday except the third Thursday of the month, the Vine Grove United Methodist Church (Elizabethtown District) serves on average 40 individuals/families with food assistance. Our need is growing; sometimes it's 50. Not too long ago I received a request from Fort Knox to help more families and had to say no due to our own limited resources.
The work begins early each Thursday with someone having to pick up the items at Feeding America in Elizabethtown. Different persons pick this up each week and deliver the items to our Food pantry. Church member Ronnie Atcher picks up on the first Thursday; this is the large load each month. Ronnie picks up not only the weekly items that we purchase or "no share," no cost, along with the items we must pay for, and the "Supplement Boxes," a USDA program. The supplement boxes are for person over 60 and low income. Some of these persons are also disabled. Sharon Ramsey, church member and lay delegate, knows many of the persons we serve. She and her husband stock the shelves and pack the boxes each week, and I assist in this when I can. We try to balance the boxes out with good proteins, carbs, and vegetables, and a little something extra on occasion. Sharon and David Ramsey or her father pick up the items ordered each week and deliver to the Vine Grove UMC.
Over the past year we have taken in several new members, and four of them are active in the Food Pantry Ministry. Mike and Tambra Greenwell are faithful to show up each week after mowing the church/parsonage lawns (at no cost to the church) to carry or "buggy" out the food to the recipient’s car, if they have one. Recently, new members Bill and Penny Rannebarger started helping out each week at delivery time. In the past year, I have tried to be as active as I can each week and to make the program not only a handout of food but to get to know the persons we serve.
Over the next few months, we are going to make some changes to the program. One, to purchase foods that are most nutritional and beneficial for our recipients. Two, we are going to start asking them if we can pray for them or is there anything else we can do to serve them. Third, we are going to work on the screening process.
We offer the food to them in the name of Jesus and say a kind word, have a laugh or simply say "May the Lord bless you." It is a true joy to help persons who truly need it. It is a blessing to hear someone say thank you. We say "Thank the Lord" or "Give thanks to God." We would like to be able to help more persons in our area, but, like so many of the persons who come, we are stretched pretty thin as well. Our effort in this area runs about $400 per month on average, most of the time more. Over the past few months it has been more due to an increase in recipients.
This ministry was in place when I was appointed here in 2010. I was glad to know we had a food pantry. Matthew 25 reminds us that when we give unto the least of these our brothers and sisters in Jesus’ name, we have done it unto Him. Each week when I leave, and I know I speak for the rest of the Food Pantry Team, I feel blessed to have served Christ in this way. We try to remember, "We are blessed to be a blessing."
If there are persons or churches who would like to help in any way, we would be like to expand this area of serving Christ in our community. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or our website: www.vinegroveumc.com. My e-mail is email@example.com.