As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, food insecurity (lack of consistent access to food) continues to challenge individuals and families in our community. Cars line up, sometimes for miles, waiting to receive needed items from food banks and pop-up distribution events. Through soup kitchens, walk-in pantries, and weekly drive-throughs, many POJ churches and ministries are working to share God's abundance with those whose resources are stretched.
Last fall, the Brandermill Church created a new hunger ministry to meet this pressing need in their Midlothian community. After brainstorming and planning, Pastor Jim Dunkin, Barbara Flynt, director of adult education and discipleship, Nancy Rider, ruling elder for missions, and member Dale Gentz launched the Sunday Park Food Pantry in November.
Congregation and community members drop off non-perishable items in a container outside the church’s main entrance. The Boathouse Restaurant, the church’s neighbor, contributes fresh foods and encourages their customers to support the pantry through financial donations.
A church classroom, empty because worship and Sunday school are still virtual, is used for storing food and toiletry donations and packing household boxes.
“Even when our space is not being used as it would be normally,” Dunkin shared, “there is a way to use it.”
Each Saturday for two hours, volunteers distribute the resources. So far, the pantry helps 30 families each week. The church hopes the number of families served increases as awareness of the pantry grows.
Three Chopt Church can testify to the increased need for food in their Henrico community. The church converted their existing walk-in food pantry to a drive-through distribution due to COVID-19.
Pre-pandemic, the pantry helped 24 families per week. Now, the church is serving more than one hundred cars each Tuesday night. Read about Three Chopt's food pantry.
Your congregation’s contributions to 5 Cents a Meal also help meet local hunger needs. POJ’s Hunger Ministry oversees distribution of financial support from the offering.
The majority of funds benefits emergency food centers operated by faith organizations, such as Grace Community Ministries, Inc. in Dinwiddie County. Grace has been a beneficiary for several years, most recently receiving $1,000 in April 2020.
Bott Memorial Church supports Grace Ministries with food contributions year-round. Congregation members also volunteer, unloading deliveries from FeedMore and distributing to needy families.
These are just a few of the many congregations helping to fill this critical need within our community. We celebrate your vital work.
More than 40 disciples are involved in sorting, packing, and staffing the drive-through for Brandermill Church’s Sunday Park Food Pantry.
At First Church in Charlottesville, soup kitchen volunteers take extra precautions while preparing meals for the homeless.