By: Rev. Darlene L. Kelley
God’s Abundance For All People: A New Food Ministry in Newberry
A group of community churches came together to form a new food ministry—God’s Abundance For All People. Housed at the O’Neal Street UMC, God’s Abundance is really an ecumenical endeavor with Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Catholics all working together to address food insecurity in our community. In the past, we have delivered pantry boxes of non-perishable food items to the senior residents at two local housing complexes, and we plan to expand services and continue deliveries soon.
Additionally, with the help of Councilwoman Jackie Holmes, a board member of God’s Abundance, we identified several individuals in our community who need help yet can not get to a pantry because they struggle with basic mobility or transportation, so we delivered boxes of food right to their doors. Compassion didn’t stop there. Our own Mayor, Foster Senn, has personally picked up pantry boxes to help parolees get a fresh start. We do our best to drop boxes off at the Free Medical Clinic, as well.
Though we started with deliveries, our ultimate goal at God’s Abundance was a weekly food pantry through a partnership with Harvest Hope, our local food bank in Columbia. We are blessed to announce that we passed our inspection in September and became a partner agency. Our new food pantry opened last month on October 3rd, and we served sixteen families that the first week. Now we are open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on O’Neal Street, and we serve new folks every Saturday.
On the day we opened, the first people to arrive at our door were a five-year-old girl with her grandmother. When the little girl walked up to me and asked, “Can we get some food, please?”—I thought I’d cry. I confess I tear up regularly at the pantry with a mix of joyful tears, grateful for the gift of God’s grace, and tears of sorrow for the suffering in our world. It’s hard for some of us to imagine what it would be like to go hungry. Some of us are privileged enough to take many things, especially the basics, for granted. Yet, your neighbors may be hungry. Hunger is on the rise in our land.