Church launches Chelsea Community Food Table outreach
By EMILY SPARACINO
A new community outreach project members and staff at Lesters Chapel United Methodist Church have launched is aimed at helping families replenish their pantries.
The Chelsea Community Food Table is held on the third Wednesday of each month from 2-4 p.m. in the education building at Lesters Chapel UMC, 7800 Chelsea Road in Columbiana.
“We started this the Tuesday after Easter and have done it once a month,” Lesters Chapel UMC Pastor Melissa Patrick said. “We know across the country and across the county there are pockets of people that are food insecure. We want it to be a community outreach.”
People in need of a few grocery items––and perhaps a few inspirational words––are invited to come by the church and pick up a grocery bag, free of charge.
Twenty bags are available on a first-come, first-served basis each time. No I.D. is required at pick-up, but the church asks recipients to write down their names, addresses and phone numbers for project updates.
Kathy Joseph, chairperson for missions and outreach at the church, and others in the congregation formed the primary vision for project. Its name, Chelsea Community Food Table, acknowledges the church’s proximity to the Chelsea community despite its Columbiana address.
Nonetheless, all are welcome at the table, Patrick said.
“In the early part of the church, table fellowship was central in sharing the gospel,” she said, “The table meaning all are welcome, and a place where everyone is equal and all are children of God.”
Patrick said she is available to talk with visitors, pray with them and take prayer requests; however, participation is not required.
“Physical food and spiritual food is what this is all about,” she said.
Staples provided at the community food table, and accepted as donations, include: Baking powder, baking soda, canned chicken, tuna and salmon, cereal (no high sugar), cocoa, coffee, tea, honey, jelly, syrup, hot cereal and oatmeal, pancake mix, pasta, peanut butter (medium size), saltine crackers (in sleeves), soup (dried or canned, prefer low fat/low sodium) and vegetables (canned green beans, corn, peas, beans); 2-pound bags or boxes of dried beans, dried milk, flour, meal, rice, salt and sugar; and fresh produce such as apples (bring two or three days prior), potatoes and sweet potatoes.
A small selection of spiritual and children’s literature is available too.
Patrick said Heavenly Smile Inc., a faith-based, non-profit organization in Chelsea that operates a community food pantry, has helped Lesters Chapel UMC launch the project.
On Wednesday, July 20, the Chelsea Community Food Table will be held from 3-5 p.m., followed by a free fellowship supper at 5:15 p.m.
Chef Julie Fusco will prepare the meal. Anyone who comes to the community food table is invited to attend the supper, and then Bible study afterward, if they choose.
Anyone wishing to give a financial donation may send a check payable to Lesters Chapel UMC.
To donate food items, call the church at 678-6259 to arrange a drop-off day and time.
“We’re still open to suggestions,” Patrick said of the project. “We do what we can to help out.”