A Food Pantry Question and Answer

What is your organization doing to make a difference in eliminating hunger? 

Then UMNC has been making a difference in the fight against hunger since before even the UMNC’s official formation in 1907 through its church partnerships.  The 3 General Rules of the Methodist societies are:

* Do no harm, avoid evil of every kind,
* Do good of every possible sort,
* Attend upon all the ordinances of God (Holy Habits).

These rules motivate our volunteers to share their hunger and thirst for righteousness with those who have hunger and thirst of the body… ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they shall be filled.” (Mt 5:6)

Our organization has countless stories of folks that have come with a myriad of problems that have lead them all to a place where hunger was the result.  Our food pantries treat that symptom and attempt to direct, connect, and assist clients in solving and / or transitioning out of whatever larger problem created that symptom of hunger. We do this through our other programs including the Christ’s Closet Thrift Store resources, UMNC utilities and rent program, our Child Care Center and our partnerships with a variety of other Memphis area NGOs and churches.

How is your organization “thinking outside the box” to expand services? 

Second only to the Mid-South Food Bank, as a partner of our pantries is the organization of The St. Andrew’s Gleaners.   This organization has provided our pantries with 10s of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables that is distributed in our pantries through the spring, summer, and fall.  These volunteers bring our pantries food from the local farmers market that will not be able to be sold in the next market week.  We have heard nothing but good feedback from clients about the access to fresh farm grown produce.  This “old school” food pantry practice has been reborn in Memphis in the last year and has quite literally brought some of our clients “out the boxes” and back to the world of fresh food.

How is the community involved in your program? 

Our pantry network is presently located in 8 communities around the greater Memphis area.  Each of those 8 pantries is staffed with volunteers from their own community and reinforced with resources from the larger community of the UMNC.

All of those pantries receive part of their food or monetary donations from sources inside their own community, often small church or school food drives.

The UMNC encourages local community governance and oversight of each pantry and acts as an enabling agent to make both paperwork and food distribution easier on a local level by having staff available when local pantries and volunteers are not available to do things like receive donations or shop at the Mid-South Food bank.

Do you utilize volunteers? If so, how? 

Yes, our volunteers are an integral part of our food pantry network.

Our volunteers play 3 roles:
1) Food collection – Besides the food our pantries buy from the Mid-South food bank many of our partner churches hold small food drives or continuous small food collections that supplement all of our pantries.  Also, our partner St. Andrew’s Gleaners volunteers collect fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets, which also supplement the more durable goods bought at the Mid- South Food bank.

2) Food distribution – Each of our food pantries within the network have a rotation of volunteers that collect client information, maintain pantry goods and serve clients.  These volunteers are the face of our pantries interacting each week both with the food that goes out and the people who need it.

3) Food Pantry Support – These volunteers support in a variety of ways from monetary and in-kind donations to regular and intentional prayer for both supplies and clients.

We are grateful and humbled by our amazing volunteers and the God that inspires them.

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