Emmanuel Christian Reformed Church is located in Sauk Village, Ill., a low-income, transient community about 30 miles from Chicago. The idea of starting a food pantry arose 10 years ago when Emmanuel’s outreach director, Ted Young, found that members of a drug and alcohol recovery class at the church needed help with food and other necessities. Today Emmanuel’s “Our Daily Bread” pantry serves approximately 100 families each week. Last year the church distributed 175,000 pounds of food to families in Sauk Village and nearby Lynwood.
“In addition to food, the church operates a resale store containing clothing, toys, a variety of household items, and furniture,” said Bob Jipping, a retired pastor and member of Emmanuel CRC. “We have about approximately 30 volunteers from Emmanuel who participate.” However, even more volunteers come from the community. Jipping explains that some of these volunteers receive food and supplies for their needs as well.
Families or individuals living in Sauk Village or Lynwood are welcome to come once or twice a month for bread, two bags of groceries, meat, and produce. “The church receives most of the food free from the Chicagoland Food Depository,” said Jipping. He said that the other support comes from donations and money earned by church members participating in the Chicago Food Hunger Walk. Any earnings from the resale store go toward the pantry’s funds.
Emmanuel CRC also has a mobile food pantry on the second Wednesday of each month. There are no residential requirements, and people can fill bags of produce from the Chicagoland Food Depository.
What started in a church’s basement has become a vessel for the community. “[This work] is a part of God’s kingdom,” said Jipping.