This ministry provides groceries and clothing to our neighbors in need. The food pantry and clothes closet are open every Thursday from 1:30-3:00pm. The ministry continues to be staffed primarily by dedicated church volunteers and every Thursday we look forward to opening our doors to our neighbors to share in fellowship and conversation. Many neighbors even share prayer requests with us that we can follow up with them on as the year goes by.
In 2016 we distributed 1853 bags of groceries to 479 families in our neighborhood, including 47 individuals who are homeless. We strive to distribute full bags of groceries that will make a difference in the need of those receiving bags. This year we distributed 29,189 pounds of food and had 186 families visit our pantry for the first time. We had 20 volunteers give their time in the pantry and worked a combined 2000 hours towards serving our neighbors.
This year I took over the administrative work of the Food Pantry from Dick Denzler, who along with his wife Jane still faithfully volunteer their time on Thursdays in the food pantry and clothes closet. Our food pantry continues to run smoothly every week thanks to the dedicated help from Dick Denzler, Jack White, Jerry Spiller, Priscilla Kinchen, Joey Kinchen, Bill and Jean Finley, and Linda Southworth. During breaks from school Jacob and John White helped stock shelves in the food pantry as well. Others have stepped in when regular volunteers need to be away like Jerry Jones and Kristen Koger.
The clothes closet continues to be full and active for our neighbors thanks to Jane Denzler along with Connie Jones, Brenda Cox and Linda White. We could not serve as many of our neighbors as we do without the help from so many wonderful volunteers.
We had many generous donations from church members, friends of the church, and the general public. We were so thankful for the canned food drive by the Richmond Concert Band and the coat drive by High Point Barbershop that filled our shelves and clothing racks during one of the most active times of the year for our ministry.
This past fall I wrote a letter to the church about a new ministry in hunger relief which puts us in a deeper partnership with our neighbors and gives them more of a voice and responsibility in the food they receive. We envision this new ministry existing alongside our current food pantry, and not replacing it. At the end of 2016 we had productive meetings with the BGAV, Food Security for America from Atlanta, GA, Feedmore here in Richmond and interested church members about hosting this type of ministry at Tabernacle. As of the time of this writing Feedmore is looking through the documents we and Food Security for America have provided to make sure all the pieces are in place for them to support us in starting the ministry. It would be the first of its kind in the State of Virginia. We are awaiting their go ahead to begin the final conversation about starting the ministry as a church. I am encouraged by the conversations we had in December and look forward to hearing from Feedmore soon.
I am so thankful for the support provided by all of you through your donations, volunteering, and prayers for this ministry. We are only able to truly make a difference in our community and love our neighbors as we love ourselves because of the work and support of our congregation. Thanks be to God for the continued opportunity to serve.
-Rev Joel Ingram
Interim Pastor for Hunger Ministry