FPC Food Pantry
Food pantries play a crucial role in helping individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity and financial challenges.
Those in need can come any Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30. We do limit the number of visits to the pantry to once every four weeks so that other families can be helped.
The first Sunday of each month, the congregation gives donations of food to the Food Pantry. Financial donations are also welcome.
Food Pantry staples list:
Canned soups, canned ravioli, canned ham, tuna, salmon, and chicken; boxed mac & cheese, pasta noodles, grits, oatmeal, and/or cereal; peanut butter & jelly; canned spaghetti sauce, fruit, and vegetables
FPC Food Pantry History
The FPC Food Pantry was founded to help relieve food insecurity in our community. The idea was brought to the Board of Deacons by Laura Burns, who prepared a plan and Mary Baker took over from there and was for years the driving force. She was assisted by volunteers from both the congregation and the community.
Donation of pantry staples was encouraged and each first Sunday the youngsters in the congregation clamored to bring the collected items forward in baskets. Items were placed in a designated closet in the downstairs hallway to await distribution on Tuesday morning. In addition to these donations, cooperation with Chard Wray Food Pantry and Middle Georgia Community Food Bank and funding from grants and donors Rev. Osterhoudt contacted – and even Kiwanis onions! - provided the food. A volunteer built shelves into the closet to accommodate goods stored there. Early in the Food Pantry’s history, hygiene kits and snack packs were placed in the closet and, more recently, items which can be used by people temporarily housed in motels have been added. All these items are donated, none purchased with budget funds.
Volunteers greeted visitors and, if they had not been in before, registered them on a form noting household size in order to determine the size bag they would require. Contents of the bags varied according to donations, but each was intended to support that family’s requirements for a week, assuming they had other resources to supplement. Each registration form was marked with indication of “small”, “medium”, or “large” so decisions did not have to be made each time the family was served, and there was in the closet a list of items to be placed in each size bag. Bags were prepared as recipients waited in the parlor, enjoying the air conditioning or the warmth of the room as well as fellowship among themselves.
When the pandemic hit, it was necessary to close temporarily, but only until a plan for drive-through distribution could be worked out. The shut-down lasted from mid- March through May of 2020. At that point, volunteers waited in the parking lot for drivers responding to roadside signs to pull up to the nursery door and collect a bag for their household. No attempt was made to match quantity with family size, the assumption being that everyone coming needed staples and would make best use of whatever they received. At first, the bags were the original “medium” size, but as the pandemic extended and need grew, more generous ones were provided.
Many people in the congregation contributed designated funds (Food Pantry was never a budget item), which made it possible for the volunteers to purchase a set amount of food each week, for pick-up from grocery stores. Twelve bags were regularly prepared and usually sufficed. When there began to be more demand, and funds were sufficient, the number was raised to fifteen, and later to twenty.
Over the years, some of the same families were served repeatedly, but in recent years there have been new ones almost every week as the hardships of the pandemic and the economy hit these folks hard. We do not have good records for the first eight to ten years of operation, but a spreadsheet was done covering approximately 2015 through mid-2021. There were 187 households registered in that period. Since then, an additional 88 have been added (in just two years). This is obviously a valuable ministry!