On August 20 the Silver Spring (Md.) Christian Reformed Church’s social hall looked like a grocery store, with aisles full of products like canned goods, ripe watermelons, boxes of cereal, and baby formula. That’s because the church has partnered with Capital Area Food Bank to open up a food pantry in an effort to serve their neighbors.
Previously the church always had supplies for those who would call or knock on its doors during the week, but after a growing awareness of the significant hunger in Montgomery County, members of the church’s Social Justice and Community Concerns Committee wanted to do more. Part of this awareness stems from the work the church does with a local elementary school as part of the Kids Hope program. “This is probably one of the biggest places of poverty in Montgomery County,” said Doug Bratt, pastor at Silver Spring.
So the committee members researched how to set up a food pantry. They visited other pantries to learn how one was run, and they attended training both to learn how to shop for food and how to organize the pantry.
Once word got out about what the church was doing, others wanted to help as well. Elmer Flores, pastor at Strong Tower Ministries, asked if he and his wife Betania, co-pastor of the church, could help. Jennifer Renkema, the chair of the Social Justice Committee, said she is excited about this partnership. “It is an opportunity to develop a partnership with another church that meets in our building but with which we’ve had very little to no interaction.”
“This is a significant effort,” Bratt said as patrons streamed in the church’s doors. The church was able to hand out approximately 1,300 pounds of food, which will feed about 40 households. “We certainly think that as word of our pantry grows, the amount of people we serve is going to increase,” says Christel Milazzo, one of the volunteers for the food pantry.