A recent Post-Dispatch article (found here) is a sobering reminder of the depth and breadth of hunger and financial need in the St Louis area. I encourage you to read it together with the photos and captions that let us glimpse the lives of some of our neighbors whom the food pantries serve. Early in the pandemic, I learned what should have been obvio When a family’s funds don’t cover all the expenses for housing, utilities, transportation, medicine, and food, it is the food budget that takes the hit. Food pantries can make all the difference. us. When a family’s funds don’t cover all the expenses for housing, utilities, transportation, medicine, and food, it is the food budget that takes the hit. Food pantries can make all the difference.
Good Ground Pantry buys some food items at reduced prices from St Louis Area Foodbank. We also pick up food including produce and bread each week from Operation Food Search. Without these front-line agencies that are mentioned in the article, our pantry would be in a world of hurt. Our partner churches Bethel Lutheran Church and Memorial Presbyterian Church send their congregation food collections to Good Ground Pantry. The Central West End gardeners deliver their seasonal bounty of fresh produce that our guests look forward to each week. Our shoppers fill out the weekly offering by shopping at local grocery stores and at Dollar Tree. And our mid-week volunteers pack the bags that line the stairs before the regular Saturday distribution.
Each Saturday our hard-working and friendly volunteers send each family away with 30+ lb of food, including meat and produce selections along with their choices from a variety of other items and basic cleaning supplies. Families of 5 or more get a double portion. Many walk to Second Church each Saturday. The line forms before 9 am for a 10 am distribution — rain or shine. We open each distribution with prayers of thanksgiving for health and food and for God’s naming us children of God, calling us, and going with us into each new day.
Numbers are up, new guests are coming — 31 last Saturday. Some new guests find us through a friend or neighbor, some call the United Way 211 number. Recently one gentleman called the church after the pantry had closed for the day. Learning that he was several miles away and on foot, I explained we would be open the next Saturday at 10 am and gave him directions to the church. He replied, “but I’m hungry now”, so a way was found to get him some food.
The needs are many. The hunger is real. Good Ground Pantry is only one small part of a network of services that strive to meet the needs and improve the lives of persons in the St Louis community. But, to the neighbors we serve, Good Ground Pantry becomes the face and the hands of all those who labor to make this service possible. And, we pray that the face we show and the hands we extend convey the love of God.
God is good. All the time.
Ruling Elder, Second Presbyterian Church
2018 Presbytery Moderator