Wyoming church partners with food shelf
Renee Patterson, pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wyoming, was at a meeting with other clergy members when she first heard a presentation from Family Pathways Basic Life Services manager Lori Daman. During that presentation about the local food shelf’s efforts to meet community needs, a question was asked regarding the future of the program. Daman mentioned grant funding to purchase a mobile food truck.
“God laid this on my heart,” Patterson said. “I had a moment where it just struck me, and I knew that this was something that our church had to be a part of.”
Patterson brought her idea to the congregation, which formed a community initiative called Make A Difference, or M.A.D. for short. The church began exploring an opportunity to become a host for the Family Pathways mobile food truck. On the third Saturday of every month, food is dropped off at the church, and volunteers from the congregation organize the items. Food recipients walk through and choose certain items that they would like. Additionally, church parishioners agreed to step up with donations of their own. The first distribution was in November 2013.
“We just kind of put the idea out there and tried to put aside fears about people not showing up,” Patterson said. “We were simply standing by the thought that if you can’t start meeting people’s basic needs, then there is nowhere they are going to be able to go in life.”
One family soon became six families and then 10 and 20. St. Paul’s congregants recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of their food distribution. So far, they have served a total of 199 families and provided 315 volunteer hours. Family Pathways has donated 11,764 pounds of food to the effort, and the church congregation has provided an additional 3,156. On the third Saturday of each month, between 25 and 30 families are served by the food assistance program.
Patterson considers the program a complete success and would love to leverage that prosperity to expand the church’s efforts.
“Helping people in need is what this entire idea was about in the first place,” she said. “We have the food program in place, but I believe we can do more. We would like to explore setting up an area for those who have clothing needs. Several church members are excellent at crafting resumes, and they would be willing to offer their services to people looking for work. We have parish nurses who could do free blood pressure checks. What I see for the future of this program is growth.”
Patterson said that she would encourage other churches or groups who might want to contribute to the St. Paul’s effort or possibly start something on their own to contact her with questions at 651-462-5212 or [email protected]