The thriving food pantry at First Christian Church, Emporia, is meeting the various basic needs of families in its community. In 2015, the pantry helped over 320 families, consisting of 806 people, with 346 bags of food.
“Recognizing a person and addressing them by name makes all of us feel important, knowing that we are a worthwhile member of society,” said Susan Iwert, Church Secretary. “It is important that food pantry personnel be compassionate with people and have the skills with which to meet a wide variety of clients who are seeking help. Personnel must be prepared for anything and remember that each person has a story.”
The food pantry of the First Christian Church has been ministering to the Emporia community for over thirty years.
Originally, the monthly congregational food collection was donated in its entirety to the local Salvation Army. Then due to the many individuals seeking help from the church, half the collected food was taken to the Salvation Army and half kept at the church for distribution. Eventually, the church decided to keep the church’s food collection at the church for distribution from its own food pantry.
For many years, the food pantry was housed on shelves in a basement closet and food was distributed by congregational members who signed up as volunteers. Later, the pantry was moved to a galley area within the office suite and distribution was limited to two days per week.
Over the past five years, the forms and the process have evolved and become streamlined. Distribution has evolved to a standard sack of food per family rather than allowing clients to select directly from the shelves.
Items in each bag include fruit, peanut butter, tuna, vegetables, pork and beans, gelatin, soup, instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, a sleeve of soda crackers, macaroni and cheese, and a roll of toilet paper. FCC includes toilet paper because households receiving state aid are not allowed to purchase paper supplies with that aid. Other items available upon request include hand soap, body soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
A half-page handout of the mission of the food pantry as well as church meeting times and the various ministries of FCC are included in each grocery bag.
“With everyone’s help and working together for a common goal, we believe we are a positive influence for the Emporia community,” Iwert said. “None of this could happen without the strong belief and support of the members, the board and the ministries of the church.”