LAMPa Connects Ministries With Emergency Foods
In addition to working with policymakers to speed vital relief services, LAMPa’s network of hunger advocates and Lutheran Disaster Response connected feeding ministries across the state with thousands of meals delivered by the PA National Guard. Although ongoing advocacy is required for long-term relief and recovery, the meals were received with gratitude by ministries seeking to meet overwhelming need. Read some of the stories.
At Quickel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dillsburg, Lower Susquehanna Synod, members have been sharing groceries with about 60 families in a nearby mobile home park for several years. When the pandemic hit, they knew the needs of their neighbors would be great, said member Denise Mehl. They applied for meals being made available through the state’s emergency feeding task force. The National Guard delivered three pallets of meals – one to the church and two for the mobile home park. “We distributed food to about 50 families (about 140 people),” in the first distribution, Mehl said.
In Clarion, the Rev. Jake Jacobson of Grace Lutheran Church in Northwestern Pa. Synod polled area service agencies before filling out the request for meals. At the time, they were able to cover needs for their existing clients. “The gaps are those who have been laid off, so that’s really who we would like to target with this,” Jacobson said. “They are the most vulnerable in the area right now,” he said, realizing that many newly unemployed wouldn’t necessarily know where to turn for help, or might still be waiting for benefits.
Two pallets of food were delivered to Feast of Justice in Philadelphia, where staff tested them to learn the ease of use (some had a heating element) and quality. “We were more encouraged than what we thought we would be,” said the Rev. Patricia Neale, executive director. “We are giving out food to our guests that is both fresh and also shelf stable. Both are needed. These meals are a great way to provide a shelf-stable option to the families we see.”
The New Love Center Food Pantry in Jersey Shore, Upper Susquehanna Synod, was able to distribute the donated meals to 192 households, feeding 472 people on April 24, and planned to deliver 60 to Haven Cupboard in Lock Haven, according to the Rev. Kerry Aucker, New Love administrator.
The Rev. Brenda Martin, pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Greenville, Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod, passed along the opportunity to the Good Shepherd Center, which her congregation supports, and which had seen funding for its feeding ministry drop when it was forced to close its thrift shop during the pandemic. Good Shepherd received 876 meals.
St. Matthew, York, received the 500,000th meal delivered by the PA National Guard. LaQuinn Thompson, Director of Community Outreach at St. Matthew, observed, “During this unprecedented time, the St. Matts team is staying strong and pulling through for the community. Our main focus for community outreach pivoted a bit more toward food security for our neighbors. Our Choice Food Pantry and Saturday Morning Breakfast has been our way to make sure our community has food to feed their families. Even though this time is troubling for all of us, we are still able to see God’s love shine through. The demonstration of community and unity in humanity with each other lending a helping hand to keep everyone together and uplifted has God’s grace and love showering all over it. We praise God for giving us the ability to continue to serve his people through the capacity we are able to each and every day. God is good!”