Sharing the Blessings
Writer / Tonja Talley
Photographer / Ron Stiemert
“Our mission here is to help bridge the gap between prosperity and poverty in the name of Jesus Christ,” said Midwest Food Bank’s (MFB) Executive Director John Whitaker. “We are a movement of generosity by God’s people to help feed those in need.”
When the Community Ministry Center (CMC) ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in 2013, the staff and congregation of Mount Pleasant Christian Church prayed about how the building could help the community. The building encompasses a community gathering room, kitchen and offices and is the home of the church’s In His Name clothing ministry and Living Bread food pantry.
Since the CMC inauguration, the need for food assistance has risen. New food pantries have opened, and assistance from food banks such as Midwest Food Bank have skyrocketed.
Midwest presently provides food to 319 Indiana agencies. In explaining how MFB operates, Whitaker said many pantries or agencies around the country have to pay for the food they give to their clients. However, thanks in part to the generous donations from businesses and various groups, MFB can give out nutritious food free to their agencies.
Estimates show 70,000 to 80,000 people in 59 Indiana counties benefit monthly from these blessed donations. Serving 59 agencies a day and desiring to help more, MFB turned to the CMC with a proposal to consider becoming an extension site for Midwest’s operations.
What is Involved in Being a Midwest Extension Site?
According to Crystal Thompson, CMC’s community connections coordinator, an extension site allows southern Johnson County agencies to travel shorter distances to receive food for their clients while at the same time allowing more room to fill new agency orders at Midwest.
How Does the Extension Site Work?
CMC volunteers maneuver forklifts to move food pallets from the MFB semi-truck into specified aisles for agency distribution. Each agency has a certain time slot to “shop” for the food that their pantry needs. Numbered cards above each pallet tells how many cases an agency can take.
As the agency shopper selects the choices, CMC volunteers keep inventory of the products and lifts the cases onto a designated cart. After completing the shopping, men from Saul to Paul donate their time to pack each agency truck.
Knowing the CMC and MFB were working together to supply food for the CMC’s Living Bread pantry, Midwest’s proposal seemed like a natural step forward in the fight against hunger. The joint venture came to fruition on June 9, 2015. Blessed with both space and volunteers, the CMC agreed to the extended mission.
“I am personally excited for this new opportunity,” Thompson said. “We [both the MFB and the CMC] have a desire to minister to those with food insecurities and share the blessings and hope found in a life in Christ.”