By JB Brayfindley
On Tuesday, August 20 the dreams of many members of Rancho Cordova United Methodist Church were realized, when the church launched its first monthly Peoples’ Pantry Food Bank distribution.
“We have always had a heart for service to the community and have frequently felt that we couldn't accomplish as much as we would wish,” said Rev. Elizabeth Brick, the church’s pastor (at right).
“The heart and soul behind The Peoples’ Pantry came from the laity – our folks were very serious about pursuing this. As with any Spirit-led project, the team of interested participants expanded and began to meet regularly.”
According to Brick, a relatively small group of people – three or four – started praying, dreaming, and strategizing about how to serve more people in ways that would be most effective, about six months ago. Meanwhile, the church applied to use the Sacramento Food Bank to source another meal that they provide.
“When the Food Bank finally vetted our application, they saw that we were ideally located to become the first Sacramento Food Bank distribution in Rancho Cordova: Indeed, they approached us about this! Come, Holy Spirit!”
The church is located on a main thoroughfare in Rancho Cordova (the fastest growing community in Sacramento County) and is across the street from Mitchell Middle School. The church owns an unused lot at the corner of Zinfandel and Hirschfeld, a spot extremely visible and ideal for a farmer's market-style food distribution.
Preparation for the event was extensive. It included visiting many area food pantries during distribution days, learning what works and what might not, and being trained by the food bank about food availability, pickup, and distribution. They also needed to ensure that the church had food handler licensees among the crews. They needed to learn about coordinating the many logistics of pickup, storage, setup, staffing, reporting, parking, greeting, and a variety of other administrative details.
“Our desire was to provide as much fresh food as possible and to allow people to select what they wanted, rather than to give them a pre-prepared package or box of food,” said Brick. “We believed that people will use more and waste less if they get to select what they want, need, and like.”
For the first distribution, the church provided an array of vegetables and fruits including cauliflower, onions, lettuce, carrots, apples, and pears from the Food Bank. However, there also were freshly grown and harvested tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash from the church garden, in addition to a wide assortment of dry goods, canned goods, and even some pet food. For this first distribution, the church also relied on generous donations from their joint Vacation Bible School partnership with the Episcopal Church and the Baptist Church located up the street.
“When the Holy Spirit moves a community, it is unlikely to be bound by denominationalism. We are the Church together!” added Brick. “Essentially, as soon as our dreaming and praying lined up with the Food Bank's expressed need, The Holy Spirit set us on fire and there was NO stopping us.”
Brick encourages people to “come, be a part of the ‘LOVE IN ACTION’!”
The People's Pantry is open, Farmer's Market style, on the third Tuesday of each month between 10 a.m. and noon at Rancho Cordova UMC, 2101 Zinfandel Drive, on the corner of Zinfandel Drive and Hirschfeld Drive in Rancho Cordova. The distribution is open to everyone who wishes to receive food, whether they are sheltered or unsheltered.
For more information contact the church office at 916-635-4242.