Distribution is the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month from 5:30-6:30.
Feeding hungry people seems such a natural thing for a church to do. Hungry people come to church to be fed spiritually. Hungry people should be able to come to church to be fed physically. That’s why St. Augustine’s has a Neighborhood Food Pantry!
We know that there are too many in our community who simply don’t have enough food. We also know that often it’s the “working poor” – men and women with low-paying jobs – who don’t qualify for emergency assistance and struggle to make ends meet even as they bring home one or more paychecks. So we’ve designed our pantry to fit their needs.
Here’s how it works: Our Neighborhood Food Pantry is open the second and fourth Monday of every month, from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. We don’t require preauthorization, proof of need, or proof of income. We don’t even ask why our neighbors need food. If they come, they must be hungry.
Our pantry is set up in the “client choice” model. That means our shelves are open and our neighbors are welcome to choose for themselves the food they want. We don’t pre-bag and hand out food. Client choice means dignity for our neighbors by letting them shop for themselves just like the rest of us. Client choice also means we give away food more wisely and without waste. If one of our neighbors just doesn’t like canned beets, we don’t hand them canned beets. Someone else will like them and will take them if they want.
Our pantry is a “supplemental pantry”. That means we don’t promise to have items from every food group every time we’re open. We buy our food from Second Harvest Gleaners, a distributor of surplus food. We order from their stock every week, knowing that their stock changes every week. This allows our neighbors to select our items at no cost and use their grocery money for other things at the store.
We buy our food from Feeding America Food Bank for a maximum of 16 cents per pound. That’s a huge savings over grocery store prices. A box of cereal costs us 15 cents instead of 3 or 4 dollars. A jar of peanut butter might be a quarter instead of 2 dollars. We fund our pantry as a line item in our church budget, but we gladly accept direct monetary contributions to our account with Gleaners. There are tremendous tax benefits to such a donation. Please contact the parish office to find out more.
So does our Neighborhood Food Pantry make a difference? Absolutely! Many of our neighbors come every time we’re open, others once in awhile as they need the help. And a few come only once. Here’s one of those stories – a harried looking woman came through our door. She was driving by with her husband and five kids and saw our “pantry open” sign. She asked what she needed to do to qualify to use our pantry. One of our parishioners looked at her, smiled, and said, “You don’t need to do anything…here’s a couple empty bags…take what you need.” You could just see a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders, and she and her husband chose what they needed and went on their way. We haven’t seen them since, but we know that we entertained angels that day.
If you’re interested in helping out or using our Neighborhood Food Pantry, please visit us, call the church office, or send an email. We welcome you!