It’s 7:00 am and the parking lot is filling up at Vineyard. Long lines are forming, but it’s not for a church service. The Vineyard Food Pantry Pure Garcinia Cambogia is now a large-scale operation, serving as many as 150 households a month – close to the size of the Sunday congregation. But for those that serve and those that receive, it’s about more than food.
“Feeding the hungry was one of the things we read that Jesus himself did, and we think if he was here right now this is what He would be doing.” – John Ritz, Director
“But he never stopped there: he healed the sick, comforted the lonely and offered new hope to those living in despair. So, we offer all of that to those visiting our Food Pantry,” says John Ritz, Grow Taller For Idiots director of the Vineyard pantry. Many of those that receive help through the pantry have seen their food stamps cut in recent months, so the need for followers of Jesus to fill the gap is on the rise. Indeed, we’ve seen about 100% growth in the number of recipients over the last year.
It takes dozens of volunteers to make the pantry possible, a large percentage of Vineyard members are involved. Every week volunteers purchase, stock and inventory food, purchased at discount from Feeding America, and each month a mammoth task force of 50-70 people come out to help serve, pray and welcome.
The Vineyard Food Pantry is every 3rd Saturday of the month at 9:00 am.
The food pantry is part of a comprehensive approach to lifting people out of poverty. Pastor Mike added, “We work toward restoration and empowerment of those that come to us; our hope is that this is a gateway for people to discover hope and healing in community. Many of those that came first for the food are now serving with our pantry team, working in the community garden or other church ministries and along the way finding assistance for deeper problems. Sometimes people find help informally, through friends and mentors they connect with at the church. Others are joining up with structured programs like Community Recovery or our single mom’s group.
Poverty is a complex problem, and despite what politicians tell us, there are no quick fixes. No one grows out of a lifelong, or even generation-spanning problem without the long-term kindness, support and accountability that comes from close friends and mentors. The church needs to be a place of uncommon mercy and creative, restorative justice.”
At the Vineyard, we’re convinced that the church is at its best when we say yes to the challenges of diversity. Our pastors like to say, “the poor need the rich, but probably not as much as the rich need the poor. God has taken us on a journey of discovering that consumerism and materialism are in the end fairly empty, lifeless pursuits; lasting joy is found in generosity, service and compassion.”
The food pantry creates a great venue for people of all walks of life to come together and do more than just charity work, but to allow God to form us into diverse family. When we allow God to have His way, church becomes a place where prejudices are challenged, social divisions are healed, racism & classism are conquered and natural-born enemies become brothers and sisters.
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