One Heart Food Pantry by Ladies
Fighting Hunger and Showing Compassion
The One Heart food pantry ministry at James River Assembly, Ozark, Missouri, has made an astonishing difference in the lives of many people. Mark Wright, director of Church and Community Care for James River, estimates that One Heart averages helping 22 families, giving 440 pounds of food per week, at both the James River and Wilson’s Creek campuses. This amount of food averages about 2 bags of groceries per family per week. “I like to think of One Heart as God’s children helping God’s children; we are really just an extension of God’s hand,” says Nina Mann, one of the volunteer coordinators.
The pantry shelves are stationed at each entrance of the campus. About 42 volunteers rotate at the stations to assist people in need. The volunteers have each completed a background check required to be a volunteer at James River, and are trained in the One Heart ministry specifically.
One Heart opens its pantry shelves before, during, and after each service on Sundays, Wednesdays, and for special events. Anyone can donate by bringing food at any time. The volunteers receive the donated food, which are mostly nonperishable items. Then the volunteers check the expiration dates, and shelf the food on one of the three large metal shelves at their station. The volunteers are responsible to keep the shelves neat and orderly.
The ministry also gives out family essential items like personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, paper products, baby food and diapers. In the summer, the ministry accepts homegrown vegetables, and makes certain the perishable items are given out on the same day they are donated. “We are able to pray with food recipients, encourage them, and offer a prayer card for them to fill out, so we can agree with them in prayer. We offer information on other area resources for them as well,” Nina shares.
“Occasionally, we will have individuals come in to receive food, but they don’t go in to the church service. We encourage them with a welcoming statement, like, ‘We are so pleased to help you with these groceries, and we would like to also feed you with the Word of God.’ Sometimes they will accept the offer to attend the service, but if they don’t, I know they will reconsider the next time.” Nina also said that many individuals and families come to the One Heart pantry who have seen God working in their lives. Pam Trammell, a One Heart volunteer, shared a testimony of one specific family she remembered so well:
“This family’s story fills our hearts with joy. Several months ago, a young mother came to the pantry on a Wednesday evening. She was shy and embarrassed to ask for food. Through her tears she told us her husband had left her and her children. She didn’t know how she was going to take care of them. She had been a stay-at-home mom, and wasn’t sure how to get help.”
The One Heart volunteers gave the mom encouragement and filled up some bags of food and essentials, then told her to contact the church office the next day. The church staff would be able to explain what local agencies to call, and would give her some general instructions. “We prayed with her and sent her off with hugs,” Pam stated.
This single mom returned nearly every Wednesday for more food and prayers. “She was struggling and, at times, overwhelmed, but she always smiled and had a cheerful, positive attitude,” Pam continued. Several months went by. Then, one Wednesday the single mom and her children walked in carrying a bag of groceries to donate instead of asking for food.
“As she came up to the One Heart station, she had such a glow on her face,” Pam said. “She nodded toward the door where a young man had just walked in. She told us that he was her husband. He had given his life to Christ that Sunday and the couple was reunited. God was rebuilding their relationship, their marriage, and their family.”
“The mom said, ‘God is so faithful.’ What a wonderful testimony!” Nina shared. “We now see them frequently volunteering at church, helping with decorations, special events and in the kid’s area. Being a part of One Heart and seeing the transformation that has taken place in different peoples lives has been such a blessing and has strengthened our faith as well.”
Darla Knoth is managing editor for the National Women’s Department.
This article “One Heart Food Pantry by Ladies” by Darla Knoth was excerpted from: www.compassionservices.com web site. January 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”