The First United Methodist Church Food Pantry is now “God’s Food Pantry, Christians Working Together”.
A group of friends, volunteers, and supporters gathered at the food pantry location at 430 East Broad Street Friday for the unveiling of a sign bearing the pantrys new name.
Since its beginning, the pantry has been known as the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, a prime supporter. But the name has been changed to reflect the wider support from the community and other churches in the area. “ Now its God’s Food Pantry because of the multitude of churches now funding it. There are people in the community, businesses, and others who give us donations,” said Pat Zornow, a volunteer.
“The people who the food pantry are honored to feed have named the pantry. The people call the food pantry “God’s Pantry” because without it, they would not have enough food to feed their families or themselves. They say that God runs the pantry as they post prayers on the outside of the pantry building. So, the name “God’s Food Pantry” was given,” said Zornow.
For nearly a decade the pantry has served the less fortunate of this community and beyond with food and other essentials to help meet their needs.
“When the pantry first opened its doors nine years ago, it was called the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry. It had its beginning at the Methodist Church. However because of space issues, the pantry was later moved to its first community location at 107B East Bryant Street. Due to an increasing need for more services and additional space, the pantry was later moved again and now is located at 430 East Broad Street,” said Zornow.
“Each year our population increases. We started out with 999 people that year. Now we’re serving thousands. We saw almost 20,000 last year alone. They come from all counties,” Zornow said.
During the calendar year 2015, the pantry served 6,393 families or 19,608 individuals including 4,927 senior citizens and 7,003 children. So far this year, 5,229 families have received food or 14,223 individuals including 4,046 senior citizens and 4,572 children.
The pantry is staffed by volunteers and supported totally by donations from the community, churches, and businesses. It does not receive any local, state, or federal government funding. The money raised goes toward purchasing food from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and to assist families in specific situations in paying utility bills and rent.
“The First United Methodist Church allocated the pantry a budget which in essence covered the costs of the utilities. The rent costs were agreed to be paid by several individuals so as not to take from donations to the pantry,” said Zornow.
“We do housing, rent, and utilities for families. We also buy Food Lion gift cards and gas cards for them. We have had quite a few people, especially the elderly who can’t afford even to drive daily for chemo treatments,” Zornow said.
In addition, the pantry works each year with St. Gregory’s Catholic Church in providing hot meals over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year to persons enrolled in the Meals on Wheels Program who would not have food over the holidays. Individuals who are delivered food boxes twice a month through the pantry and the homeless additionally receive hot meals.
Christmas presents are also provided each year to less fortunate children up to the age of 18 who may not otherwise get a gift during the holidays.
Over the years the costs to operate have increased along with the number of people served by the pantry. Last year, $14,234 was paid to Second Harvest to purchase 136,334 pounds of food not including the costs for paying utilities, rent, and motel lodging for homeless persons and for the costs of Food Lion and gas cards. So far this year, $10,354 has been spent to buy 111,344 pounds of food plus other costs.
If you would like to support the food pantry with a donation or if you wish to receive assistance call 615-597-4961 or 615-714-1242.
You may also call the Smithville Police Department at 615-597-8210 and ask for Chief Mark Collins or Captain Steven Leffew.
Food is distributed on the first and third Friday of every month from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. “We have two Fridays. The police have also been addressing a lot of the emergencies at night. People can call them. You may also call the First Baptist Church or the First United Methodist Church,” said Zornow.
“We consider it a privilege to be able to work here and help other people. We feel like we’re doing God’s work. We know we’re helping a lot of people,” said Hilda Oakley, who has been a volunteer for the pantry for more than eight years.