Serving The Food Insecure During a Pandemic
We all have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another – emotionally, financially, spiritually. But for those who were already “living on the edge” of poverty, homelessness or food insecurity, the impact has been devastating. Which is why organizations like The Falls Church Community Service Council, Inc. (FCS), a coalition of faith communities and human service organizations in the greater Falls Church area, are so important – not only when a pandemic occurs.
Holy Trinity Lutheran in Falls Church, a Metro D.C. Synod congregation, is one of the 20 faith communities supporting FCS before and during these uncertain times. A group of dedicated volunteers from Holy Trinity – Jane, Ray, Bob, Sue – have continued to show up to the food pantry, located in Knox Presbyterian Church, every first and third Thursday of every month. The smiles on their faces may be covered by a mask, but nothing could hinder the servant hearts of these volunteers from serving all of God’s beloved creation.
“We are known affectionately by the group at Knox as ‘the Lutherans’. Since the pandemic began, we have been limiting our team to just the four of us to allow for social distancing. We sort items, check dates for freshness and shelve donations as they come in. Sue and Jane work in the pantry while Bob and Ray bring up needed items from the large storage room in the back.”
The Food pantry provides non-perishable and fresh food to clients in need. Food donations come from member congregations, individuals and local food drives. Additional critical food is purchased when needed as funds are available.
“We try to organize items to facilitate the task of those who deliver to families. There are two large refrigerators with freezers to store fresh items. Right now, a farm is providing fresh eggs which are picked up weekly by a volunteer named Shanny.” mentions Jane Sparnon, a volunteer from Holy Trinity.
Over the years, many others from Holy Trinity have supported the food pantry, through monetary donations, collecting food items and working at the pantry. However, the pandemic has certainly increased the need for social services like the FCS food pantry as many households experience job loss, furloughs, and additional medical bills.
“We have been serving 25-30 households every week for the past two months.” states Linda Rice-Johnston, recording Secretary at FCS. “We are delivering to healthy people as well as those who have been diagnosed with the virus. Each household receives at least a week’s worth of groceries including canned and boxed goods, perishables (eggs, cheese, bread, beef, chicken, hot dogs, margarine, onions), as well as cleaning products and toiletries.With the recent influx of CARES Act money, we are able to help many more households with rent and utilities payments as well.”
“The need right now certainly is great. The food goes out as fast as we can stock the protective bins in which we store items!” exclaims Jane Sparnon, volunteer from Holy Trinity. “Bob and Sue take recently expired items to Food for Others so nothing is wasted. We are on call for additional days of service as needed to ensure all those in need can be served. We find great joy in our tasks. It is a small part of a large process to make it easier and safer for all to provide adequate nutrition to those in need.”
The FCS pantry delivers to households referred to them by Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services Planning. If you know of anyone in Fairfax County needing food or financial assistance, please have them CSP at (703) 222-0880.
Holy Trinity is not alone in their efforts across the Metro D.C. synod to continue to provide for and support those experiencing homelessness or food insecurity during the pandemic and beyond.
Over the past few months, How have you or your congregation lived out the synod mission to cultivate a boundless love for all of God’s beloved creation and model faithful accompaniment?
Please feel free to share your stories in the comments below!