By Cindy Solomon

Centertown UMC Volunteers pack and distribute more than 200 boxes of food each week to families and individuals in the community.

Centertown (Tennessee) United Methodist Church received a second grant for $3,000 from the Golden Cross Foundation, a non-profit corporation and extension ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Money from this grant was used to purchase a storage unit for non-perishable items for the church’s weekly food ministry program.

The program started in 2012 after church members learned about area children who were going to school hungry. Initially three volunteers prepared 20 boxes of food every Wednesday to give to families. As word spread, the program grew. Now 20 volunteers—most over 60 years old—prepare and hand out more than 200 boxes a week.

“Each Wednesday food is picked up from the Feed America First warehouse in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by one of our volunteers,” said Centertown UMC member Michelle Bodey. “It is then delivered to our church fellowship hall where it is sorted and boxed for distribution. More than half of the boxes go to people over 65.”

The food is distributed from 2:30 to 3 p.m. to anyone who drives through the church’s parking lot. During this time, volunteers form a prayer circle and invite those receiving boxes to join for praises and prayer requests.

The program’s impact and blessings are as varied as the individuals and families it serves. “This program is awesome!” says recipient Kimberly S. “It really helps me and my mama. She is very frail and I take care of her. We are so blessed to have this help. My favorite part, though, is the prayer circle. I rushed to get here today so I wouldn’t miss it. It has encouraged me pray at home and start reading my Bible more.”

Community residents Larry and Barbara T. also receive a box each week. “This is wonderful!” Barbara said. “Larry is diabetic and has a lot of health issues. We are both on Medicare and when we go in the ‘donut hole’ for prescription drug coverage, that cuts into our grocery money. This program really helps us out, especially the vegetables, fruit, and yogurt.”

Because the program is funded entirely on donations, church members and ministry volunteers are particularly thankful for the grants provided by the Golden Cross Foundation. “We received the first grant for $10,000 in 2016,” said Bodey. “We used that money to refurbish a walk-in freezer and cooler allowing us to properly handle and store a larger amount of food. The storage unit purchased using money from this year’s grant gave us much-needed space to store non-perishable items.

“God has constantly provided for the needs of our ministry—from the food to distribution boxes to the money we need to operate,” Bodey said. “We have had the opportunity to pray with and minister to many who do not attend church. While we are currently limited on space, we hope that this ministry will continue and grow.”