With all the ways in which we as a faith community Love God, Serve People, and Transform Lives every single day it’s really hard to keep track of it all. We have many ministries, both formal and informal, constantly working to meet sometimes overwhelming goals every day, week, month, and year. And usually, we don’t get to know the outcome of all of this work — or exactly how we touch the lives we touch or the difference we are making in those lives.
And sometimes we do.
This past week — during her very last week serving our church before moving on to a new dual appointment in Brownwood — Rev. Carol Roberts was serving at the First Street Methodist Mission during its time of grocery service. Walking out to a car with a man, helping him carry the groceries our Mission had just given him, Carol, of course, struck up a conversation.
As they were loading the groceries into the car, the man said, “These groceries and the First Street Mission have been such a blessing to us.” He gestured to the groceries they had just loaded and the three upper elementary school-aged-children in the car. “My wife and I have our three grandchildren staying with us for the summer,” he said, “and we had no idea how we were going to feed them.”
“There are a lot of people who are food insecure,” Carol explains. “And by making food accessible to them, they can then use the money they would have otherwise spent on food to pay rent, utilities, and other necessities.” Carol says that many of those who receive groceries from the Mission are working people, or elderly people on fixed incomes, and yet they are still having a hard time making ends meet.
“It is such a blessing to be able to do this for them,” she adds. “There are other feeding programs for children are across the city, and in the schools during the school year,” she adds, “but sometimes people don’t have access to them because of transportation and a lot of factors that go along with all that.”
Carol says that for working parents, grandparents on fixed incomes, or single parents working full time but in low-paying jobs, buying enough food can present a real financial burden. “It’s not that people aren’t trying,” she says. “It can be very difficult just to make ends meet, no matter how hard you try, and lots of times when their jobs aren’t where they live, transportation costs take up whatever money they might have been able to spend on groceries.”
First Street Methodist Mission provides food assistance once per month for families with children or every two months for families without children.
Families and individuals who receive groceries must have a residence and proper documentation, including photo ID and proof of residence.
“My favorite thing about grocery service at the Mission is not just that we’re able to provide healthy nutrition for over 1500 of our neighbors every month, but that our volunteers make certain, week after week, that our guests are served in an atmosphere of brotherly love and mutual respect,” says Bernie Scheffler, Assistant Director of the First Street Methodist Mission.
If you would like to be part of this week-in-week-out good we do as a church, your financial contribution will go exponentially further than actual food donations, Bernie says, although those are welcome and appreciated as well. “I love that people take our red bags and feel empowered to help by shopping for food for us,” he emphasizes, “that’s a great help!” However, he adds that because of the deep discounts offered on essential food items from the Tarrant Area Food Bank, financial contributions toward the Grocery Ministry are really how we are able to provide so many sacks of groceries each week.
“The 1500 people we help each month with groceries is above and beyond the other services we provide, including infant formula, Food4Kids, or sack lunches for our friends experiencing homelessness,” Bernie says. He estimates that in all, the FSMM provides food services for about 1000 people each week, which amounts to around 4230 a month and more than 50,760 every year — none of which could be done without the support of Mission volunteers, financial contributions from the First Church congregation, and the work of First Street Methodist Mission staff.