I enjoyed the morning spent with the fine folks of Blessed Faith Ministry as they hosted their weekly food distribution. Fall is spectacular in Oak Park, a leafy Sacramento city neighborhood. Today’s ideal weather allowed this team to organize early and feed the community before bright sunshine washed away morning’s chill.
Over 240,000 Sacramento county residents currently struggle with food insecurity. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) partners with 220 pantries throughout the county to serve individuals and families in need through the Partner Agency Network. SFBFS counts Blessed Faith Ministry as one of the amazing agencies that forms this network. Darryl and Debra Kent, joined in marriage and mission, lovingly lead this hunger relief effort and served with a lively force of volunteers. They welcomed me to the fold and Darryl, also known as Brother Kent, showed me around their parking lot set-up. Volunteers unload a trailer bursting with pallets and packages from SFBFS with precision. Thirteen folding tables resourcefully coupled to create assembly lines for vegetables, fruit and baked goods which then expertly flowed in formation to the pickup area. Each recipient will soon leave with a bag of prepared perishables (salads, sandwiches and pastries), a bag of fresh vegetables (lettuce, peppers, carrots, potatoes and onions) and a bag of fresh fruit (apples, pears, plums, peaches and pluots). Today’s offering included bottled waters and baked goods, which are not always available.
On the other side of this lot, a diverse line of cart-ready neighbors grew by the minute. Debra skillfully signed folks in, assigning numbers just to keep things orderly, and reminded guests that name and number in the household are the only pieces of information required to receive food. Blessed Faith Ministries serves an average of 50 people once a week and they constantly focus on evolving to maximize efficiency. Less than a year ago, Brother Kent struggled to provide, not for a lack of commodities, but a lack of human power. He and one other person formed the entire workforce. He heard voices in the receiving line, eager to help, and enlisted a crew which has now boasts eight joyful volunteers. They successfully manage food distribution and brainstorm projects to increase assistance within the community. “We see a huge need for winter goods; blankets, jackets, sweaters and socks. Anything that can keep these people warm is vital.”
“This is the village,” Debra says as she surveys this operation of heart and soul.
Before opening the line to receive, Brother Kent gathered the group and prayed “because that’s what I do.” He expressed gratitude that everyone made it through the last seven days and could return. He prayed to see everyone again next week. He blessed the food and the good people that will be sustained. I’m grateful for Brother Kent and Debra’s partnership with SFBFS, along with their generous volunteers and the service they provide our shared community.
Jennifer Postlethwaite, Communications Coordinator
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services