In June, I attended Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ bi-annual Partner Agency meeting where Partner Agencies shared accomplishments from the past year and exciting goals for the coming months. Over 200 attendees broke up into groups based on geography and played bingo to learn more about fellow agencies in our community. Toward the end of the two-hour meeting, we swapped contact information with three Partner Agencies and agreed to set up informative visits.
My first visit took me to Powerhouse Christian Ministries on a warm Tuesday morning. Starting at 10 a.m., volunteers opened the doors to the trailer and a steady stream of local families came through. Volunteers arranged and beautifully displayed items including fresh produce, canned items, dairy and more. The atmosphere felt welcoming, dignified and much like a farmers’ market shopping experience. All items were displayed on colorful tablecloths and organized neatly on nearby shelving. Families and individuals selected items they wanted from the table, not prebagged and then handed to them (an image often associated with food pantries). Volunteers and Pastor Jones greeted guests by name and thanked them for coming. When a woman asked if she could come back soon, Pastor Jones said, “Of course.” He then joked, “Come as often as you like if you’re needy, stay at home if you’re greedy,” relaying the churches policy that individuals may come as often as they would like if they are in need of food.
The food pantry is open four days per week and feeds thousands in the Arden area. In addition to distribution hours, this agency distributes prepackaged boxes from SFBFS that target seniors over age 60. Contents include new, nutrient dense items that are shelf stable for seniors who may not be able to leave their homes. One man in line shared his 60th birthday was next month and Pastor Jones reminded him to bring his ID and income statement next month to show the volunteers, who could then verify he qualifies for Food for Seniors and start receiving the monthly additional groceries.
The volunteers, who are current members of the church, showered each client with love and kindness, greeting many by first name. In addition to distributing food, the volunteers also pick up food from seven local grocery stores 17 times per week. Their 1999 passenger van with over 300,000 miles now requires a prayer every time they turn on the engine. A donor recently toured Powerhouse Christian Ministries’ small facility and felt so moved by their great work, Powerhouse Christian Ministries will be receiving a larger trailer for food distribution and funding for a refrigerated truck that will allow for more efficient food pick ups each week.
The experience was eye opening and heartwarming. When you learn SFBFS helps feed 147,000 men women and children each month it can be overwhelming. But when you visit a Partner Agency to see food getting into the hands of those who need it, you realize the importance of the work we are doing together. I have two more visits to Partner Agencies on my schedule over the next week and I can’t wait to see how other agencies fight hunger in their own unique and effective way.
Submitted by: Kelly Siefkin
VP of Communications & Marketing