By Mrinal Gokhale
The Greater New Birth Church held their fourth mobile food pantry in conjunction with Feeding America on the afternoon of Friday, July 17.
More than 500 people each received 20 to 30 pounds of free food ranging from frozen meat, dairy products, breads, cereal, juice, snacks and produce.
This event was part of a two-day annual conference with the Grace International Fellowship, which Greater New Birth Church is a member of.
The mobile food pantry volunteers were members of Greater New Birth and various churches that were attending as a part of the conference.
“A mobile food pantry is like a pantry on wheels, traveling to different sites to distribute food directly to people,” said Pastor Jesse Griffin.
“We ordered 20,000 pounds of food.”
Griffin went on to say that the need for food pantries increased ever since Wisconsin’s FoodShare budget cuts took place in addition to the restrictions banning seafood, potatoes and other types of food using Quest cards.
“We had our first mobile pantry around Thanksgiving this year with just 15,000 pounds of food, but we’ve identified a greater need in the past six months,” he said.
Rashaan Cherry is a social worker and Greater New Birth church member who loves serving people. She has volunteered for many food pantries held at the church.
Her job includes recruiting volunteers and helping order food.
She said that she ensured volunteers gave each attendee two or three of each item being handed out.
“We originally just thought we’d need 10,000 or 15,000 pounds, but I think that because of legislation’s restrictions, we needed more this time,” she said.
She went on to say that the church holds a regular food pantry on the third Saturday of each month.
“At our regular pantries, we usually serve about 150 people,” she said. “Mobile pantries can serve way more people and areas in higher need, but both types of pantries are needed.”
Pastor Griffin goes through the church’s minister to establish the fundraising for food pantries, and can easily ask for more money for more food, if there is a need.
He also utilizes different community sponsors and donations from the public to fund more food.
“We currently serve 45 to 75 people a month through regular food pantries, and, I would love to have one mobile pantry per month,” he said. “Walmart sponsored a mobile pantry we held on May 25, and all our pantry events are registered through 211.”
When asked about any requirements or restrictions to attend the food pantries, Pastor Griffin said the pantries are completely open to the public.
“We ask no questions; we don’t need to know any information. Anyone can benefit from our food pantries,” he said.
The Greater New Birth Church is located at 8237 W. Silver Spring Dr. Visit greaternewbirthchurch.org for more information.