February 14, 2013
Every few weeks, the CPC bulletin includes an announcement that the church food pantry needs donations. Members donate canned or boxed goods, and those who need food assistance are helped. But the food pantry is just the beginning of a process that helps people in need – spiritually as well as physically and financially.
To start, food is dropped off in a bin in the Fellowship Hall on the weekends or at the church office during the week. The best kinds of items to donate are the following:
- Canned food (stews, meats, tuna, chicken, soups, vegetables, etc.)
- Pasta (all kinds)
- Small jars of sauces (spaghetti, salsa, etc.)
- Small / medium jars of peanut butter
- Boxed meals (tuna helper, hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, etc.)
- Cereal (all kinds)
- Powdered milk
Donated items are sorted onto the shelves of the food pantry and then packaged into bags that make a complete meal. For example, one bag holds six or seven items like tuna helper with a can of tuna, pasta with sauce, and a can of fruit or vegetables. Each bag contains a protein as well as the makings of a complete meal.
Rosalie Wareing’s small group helps with the food pantry by emptying the bin from the Fellowship Hall each Sunday, sorting donations, and creating the individual bags of meals that are ready to hand out to those in need. “We rotate one couple each week who takes care of updating the food pantry,” Rosalie said, “so the whole group doesn’t have to do it each week, just one couple at a time. It takes about fifteen minutes on average each Sunday.” It’s a small investment of time for a big return for those who receive the food.
Depending on the number of requests during the week, the bags of meals can quickly disappear until Rosalie’s small group members arrive on Sunday to sort and bag donations. It would be helpful to have another small group or two organize the pantry and create food bags during the week.
Certain types of food donations are welcome while others, unfortunately, cannot be used to help needy families. Items that cannot be given away include the following:
· Expired items (Covenant is responsible for the food that is given out, so these items must be thrown away)
· Opened items (Also must be thrown away for health safety reasons)
· Condiments (Cannot be made into meals and so are not useful)
· Items requiring refrigeration (A homeless family has no way to store such food)
· Bulk items (Single bulk items are difficult to break up into one-family portions)
· Others – Some items don’t necessarily translate into a healthy meal unit (for example, a box of crackers; a jar of peanut butter would be more helpful)
· Non-food items – Personal healthcare items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, or deodorant, and diapers/baby care items are too difficult to store and perhaps a bit insulting to put in a bag; sharing centers help with providing these items
Covenant gives out hundreds of bags of food each year to families in need. The volunteer receptionists in the church office help manage food pantry traffic, which can be heavy at times. There is a great need for more volunteer receptionists to handle food pantry requests as well as other light office duties in the church office.
And CPC members may not realize that some of our own members get help from our food pantry; the CPC families in need are also brought into contact with the CPC Mercy Team to help with long-term needs.
People who come to the church office for food pantry donations receive two food bags (each representing a complete meal) and a referral to Love INC. Covenant works with Love INC to meet the deeper and long-term needs of those who visit the food pantry. Love INC is a Christian organization that “helps people in churches help people in need by bringing Christian churches together to help the poor, meeting immediate needs such as food and clothing, to longer-term responses such as budget mentoring,” according to its website. “Churches coordinate their resources and services through Love INC so that those in need are not turned away. The result: Communities see churches join together to show Christ's love to their neighbors.
“The heart of Love INC is the Clearinghouse, where volunteers receive requests, assess needs, refer people to the help they need, and follow up. Through the Clearinghouse, Love INC also identifies gaps in services and resources in the community and helps churches develop ministries to fill the gaps.”
So donating to the CPC food pantry is about more than just canned goods – it’s a link to a network of resources that meets people’s practical needs as well as their spiritual ones.
You can learn more about Love INC and about donating monetarily to the organization by visiting www.loveincbrevard.com.
To help with the CPC food pantry or to volunteer as a CPC receptionist, contact the church office at 727-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.