ACS Food Pantries Continue Operations


May 5, 2020
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Update – APRIL 2, 2020

ACS Food Pantries of local conferences around the North American Division are doing their best to stay open and keep the community fed during the COVID-19 crisis. Below are reports and photos shared with us by some of our conference ACS leaders on currently active ACS food pantries and church feeding programs in their territory.

  1. Bermuda Conference has ten ACS food pantries. Most of their ACS Centers do not maintain a physical pantry. Community Service leaders at the church level operate a system of food vouchers which is provided to community members upon request. As a result of the Government of Bermuda imposing some curfews, suspending bus and ferry services, and ordering everyone to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, quite a number of needy people are not able to go grocery shopping.On March 25, 2020, St. David’s SDA Church’s community services ministry responded to a call for breakfast food items. They purchased cases of pancake mix, sirop, and dozen eggs which were packaged at the church for each individual and delivered to their residence for free. The residents collected the packages from the trunk of the car. The Hamilton SDA Church has changed the format of their community supper from dine-in to takeout only. Other charities who run homeless shelters also send some of their staff to collect cooked food at the Hamilton Center for their residents who would normally attend the center on their own.
  2. Greater New York Conference has several churches with food programs through which they serve their communities. Among all of the churches with a Community Food program, the Co-Op City SDA Food Pantry and Port Jervis SDA Food Pantry for several years have been very successful in serving people in need. These churches have a well-established food ministry in which they serve the community on a weekly basis. Co-Op City has provided adequate food for more than 4,000 recipients on a monthly basis. Port Jervis has been known to serve an average of over 300 people during their time of operations. In addition, they provide help by appointment during their off-hours daily. Both churches operate their programs with the help of volunteers only, and every year they continue to do their best to serve those in need. The Greater New York Conference has 32 food pantries.
  3. Northeastern Conference has 51 centers in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Volunteers from several Adventist churches brave the streets of Brooklyn, New York, by distributing food to countless seniors from their churches and the community, who are afraid to get out of their houses for fear of being contaminated. The volunteers pick up and deliver tithe envelopes, and also deliver food packages, water, and medications. The Bridgeport Tabernacle church distributes food every Friday from their parking lot to over 180 individuals in Connecticut.
  4. Ontario Conference has 15 food pantries serving in the state of Ontario. The New Life Neighbourhood Centre in Oshawa is adapting its approach to continue assisting the less fortunate in the area. They are being very careful with social distancing by providing the meals in packaged take-out containers. The GTA Community Services Centre in Toronto which runs the Touch of Love sit-down supper program has changed its format. They are also using the take-out method and at the same time, they are working with the churches to deliver meals to the shut-ins, disabled, and seniors in the community.
  5. Chesapeake Conference has ten food pantries. The Linthicum SDA Church did things a little differently last week during food distribution that really helped streamline the process and made it much smoother. Typically, a small “donation” is collected every two weeks at pick up. But the head of the food bank pantry got permission from the Food Bank to waive the fee. They placed chairs outside in the parking lot to make a circle so that traffic could keep moving. One of the volunteers with a mask on would go to the next vehicle while the vehicle ahead of them was being served, standing several feet away from the vehicle.
  6. New Jersey Conference has 22 food pantries out of which five are currently involved in curbside distribution. They are Second Acts Food Pantry, Cherry Hill SDA Church, New Brunswick English SDA Church, Laurelwood SDA Church, and Collingwood Park SDA Church. Two of them are serving 300-400 monthly. The Conference ACS Centers are facing shortages due to reduced supply at the food banks. Protective gear is being used, but there is a concern of the masks being substandard.
  7. Michigan Conference has 21 ACS feeding programs in Michigan. The Harbor of Hope Food Pantry in Benton Harbor has been serving an average of 85-100 families, but the last time that they had a drive-up food pantry on March 22, they served 177 families and eventually ran out of food and had to turn people away. The Escanaba Food Pantry’s need has increased by 40% and the number of families that they are now serving is over 200. They are open twice a week and they are the only ACS food program in the Upper Peninsula. Frost ACS Food Pantry is one organized, fully stocked pantry that is open once a month and serves several families in the area. Ithica SDA Church, Tawas City, Traverse City, and Detroit Northwest ACS food pantries are still open every week serving their communities with utmost safety and kindness.
  8. Central States Conference has 15 food pantries. One of the largest pantries in the St. Louis, Missouri area is the Agape SDA Food Pantry which serves over 200 families a week. This pantry is open to everyone that has a valid ID and is not restricted to zip code. They have a lot of volunteers to help serve the community and many former recipients have become volunteers themselves. Another one is The Palace of Peace Pantry located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that serves over 1,000 people a week. The community is served on the first Sabbath, second Wednesday, and fourth Sabbath every month. They have a “shopping” set up where individuals and families can use grocery carts and choose the items they need. They also go out and serve the homeless and those struggling in the community. They make over 100 sandwiches every Sabbath to take to the homeless.
  9. Alaska Conference has eight food pantries. Four of their most active ones are located in remote villages of Alaska. The Selawik food pantry has been the catalyst to sharing the Gospel both in the secular community, as well as among other believers. God has used Edna & Jose’s hospitality to bless the community. The food pantry is the vehicle to reach children and parents alike. Another food pantry, Togiak, started with feeding the kids during a teen night. As it expanded, both food and love have been poured out of food supplies by John & Lynette. Through the pantry ministry, Togiak has built relationships in the community and sponsored many children from the village to Camp Polaris where over 20 children have experienced Jesus and been baptized. This all was made possible by the hospitality ministry through the food pantry. All the villages of the Arctic Mission Adventure have a mission presence in providing boxes of food to anyone who asks to take home to help feed the whole family. No one in need is turned away!
  10. Southeastern California Conference has 44 food pantries. To respond to and honor social distancing, the Mt. Rubidoux SDA Church in Riverside has instituted two weekly “drive-bys”. This allows families in need to drive up, pop their trunk open, and receive food and supplies. The San Diego Fil-Am SDA Church in Chula Vista is partnering with Feed America to distribute produce to over 100 families every first Thursday of the month and then on every third Thursday of the month.
  11. Carolina Conference has 12 food pantries in the State. Charlotte Spanish SDA Church Community Services ministry receive some supplies from Second Harvest Food Bank of Carolina and are serving the community on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They have around 45-50 volunteers who receive and organize those supplies. Regularly, cars line up in the parking lot and folk from the community fill their shopping carts. At present, the community does not get out of their cars and come in the building to get the food. The ministry now brings shopping carts out to their cars to unload. Last week, there were 400 carts each day on Tuesday and Wednesday.The Foster SDA Church receives supplies from Manna Food Bank of Carolina and serve the community on Tuesday mornings. They have around 10-15 volunteers who receive those supplies and organize into food categories accordingly. They received two tons of food this week, and also obtain fresh food from other sources. Cars line up in the parking lot and boxes of food are pre-filled on Monday. They load cars up as they drive through. They have about 65-70 cars lining up every week. In addition to the boxes, the ministry is making small boxed breakfasts for each vehicle, as well. The Tryon SDA Church’s Share Thy Bread Minstry serve around 200 people twice a month, under the leadership of their community service leader, Lorna Dever. They obtain their food from MANNA Food Bank which requires them to pre-pack the boxes so that people are not handling the food. Last Friday, they delivered out 50 boxes of food.

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