Excellent, thought-provoking piece.

Nü MethoFesto

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Food pantries seem to be the cause du jour of United Methodist Churches. Everywhere I go, I hear about feeding projects in our local congregations.

First, let me say that I am thrilled to hear this! This is one of the most practical ways that local churches can be in ministry in their communities. There are, of course, good and bad ways to run food pantries, but in general, I am always happy to hear about churches turning their focus outward.

But almost immediately, I am also overcome by another, more daunting thought. Why are food pantries suddenly necessary? Why are so many children going hungry in this country?

When we turn to these types of questions, we begin to engage Biblical justice issues.

Feeding people is a vital ministry of any faith community. We cannot ignore the physical and immediate needs of those around us. But these are fundamentally…

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2 thoughts on “

  1. Troy says:

    My church has a food pantry for which I am the liaison to. We serve three communities but will not turn anyone away the first time if they are not in one of those three communities we serve. We also work closely with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which is governed by the USDA. So we follow the same guidelines.

    What we have become aware, beyond the bloggers concern, is that even as a food pantry in the south suburbs of Chicago, there are food pantries that are having to close their doors because they cannot meet the compliance requirements, afford the costs associated with running a pantry, or they are unable to become self-sustaining. In 2012 more than 800 pantries had to close their doors.

    We became a self-sustaining pantry last March by the volunteer work with do with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Even with a congregation the size I belong to this was not the case until 2012. Through the efforts of understanding what is required to run, maintain, and support the changing face of hunger, we have been able to the work we do now at a level that costs the church very little money. We are also a UCC congregation that is beginning to participate in the justice areas around food scarcity. Interestingly, in discovering that there are food deserts, some pantries in those areas are also struggling to remain open or have closed. Those struggling are in some ways their own food desert. So now that our pantry is self-sustaining, we are paying it forward by giving our volunteer hours, which generates credit with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, to a pantry that is closing on the West Side of Chicago.

    While it is great to ask the hard questions around justice and food, there are other justice questions that I think are beginning to emerge around justice and the food pantries that are themselves becoming deserts.

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