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The Food Pantry Outreach Mission

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”  (Isaiah 58:10)

 

Holy Comforter’s food pantry mission began in 1963, when the Church was celebrating its 10th anniversary.  A parishioner named Mary Hankinson organized the first collection and distribution effort for people in need, and it has been in continuous operation by Church volunteers since that time.  By 1978, the food and clothes closet, as it was then called, was operating out of a trailer in the back of the church property on Miccosukee Road.  That trailer was frail, and used clothing was unwieldy, so by the time the Church relocated to Fleischmann Road in 2003, the mission was gradually streamlined and renamed as just the food pantry.  Earlier, during the 1990’s, under the leadership of parishioner Tom Wells, the Church had established a partnership with the Second Harvest of the Big Bend, a relationship that improved our consistency of service while greatly expanding our ability to serve Leon County residents in need.  Our food currently comes primarily from Second Harvest, with substantial additional items from individual donations, as well as from donation drives that are periodically organized by both the Church and the School.  We also make limited purchases when needed to supplement our donations.

 

The food pantry is entirely staffed by volunteers affiliated with the Church.  In addition to the many people who contribute food, money, and occasional service, there is a core group of at least 24 individuals who contribute regularly – sometimes weekly – to such administrative tasks as inventorying and placing orders, or operational tasks as unloading trucks, placing food packages in distribution bags, and setting up and dismantling the distribution center every week.  On distribution days, our volunteers greet clients when they arrive, collect data about their families, and provide them with whatever food we have available.   We present a positive image to the public, and since our move to Fleischmann Road, several individuals have distinguished themselves by their long-standing commitment to the mission.  One such person was Wayne Makin (“Mr. Food Pantry”), who made it his business to interact with everyone who came seeking our help.  Administrative leadership has been notably stable and competent over the last 20 years.  Fred Kinch was a long-time leader who was succeeded by Stephen Moors around 2010.  Stephen, among other things, kept the food pantry operational during the COVID pandemic, a noteworthy accomplishment in its own right.  Although Stephen has recently left town, we are fortunate that Fred Kinch has agreed to resume the administrative leadership role.  The electronic registration system he introduced in the summer of 2023 has already been an important technical innovation.

The food pantry is routinely serving well over 200 families every month, making us one of the largest such operations in the Big Bend area, and one of the few that is open (almost!) every Saturday morning. 

Pantry Hours:  9a to 11a on Saturdays 

Donations can be dropped off at the church during normal business hours and/or Sundays.

Food Pantry News

Thanks to the generous donations made in the name of Tom Wells' memorial, Shirley Ellis' 80th birthday, and from the Vestry Lenten Challenge, a freezer was purchased for the Food Pantry.  The freezer will be dedicated in Tom Wells' name.

Going forward, we will be able to receive free frozen goods from the USDA to give out on Saturdays.  This will be a very welcome addition to this important ministry.   

The Food Pantry is always looking for volunteers to help with bagging food during the week or assisting with distribution on Saturday mornings.  The bagger follows a checklist during the week to make enough bags to give out on the weekend.  Saturday staff helps check the clients in, verifies USDA paperwork, and hands out bags of food.

We are one of the few food distribution sites in Leon County that is open every weekend.  We help about 100 people every Saturday.  Your donations of time, food, and money are greatly appreciated!

In other news, the Holy Comforter Food Pantry has been registered with a group called Ample Harvest to receive fresh produce from local farmers. 

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