In the two months since we re-opened the food pantry, we have jumped up to serving more than 130 families a week. Almost 100% of our food pantry guests are Hispanic – and that has given us some challenges to overcome. While we have adapted what we are stocking on the shelves to better meet their needs, we are still learning. In my ignorance I did not realize how different corn meal is from corn flour – and corn flour is the number-one item in demand and that we cannot keep up with the demand! I am regularly wiping out the shelves in our local grocery stores as I buy every package of corn flour they have. Oil to cook the tortillas being made from the corn flour is also in high demand.
One of the culturally different things that we have had to adjust to is the need for larger sized diapers. The tendency in these cultures appears to be to potty-train their children much later than we do. Again, in my ignorance, I thought that if you are struggling financially that you would potty train your children as early as possible to cut down on the expense of diapers. But that is not the case, and we are now stocking larger diapers to meet the need.
My prayer as we move forward is that we would have more volunteers, and in particular more Spanish speakers to interact with our guests – not just getting their food for them, but sitting with them and getting to know them. The Lord has begun a good work, and now is the time to take it to the next level – sharing our hope with these people who need hope.
This past week we had a new challenge, one that I had not anticipated. Many of our first-time visitors to the food pantry were illiterate. We have been diligent to have our signs and forms be in both English and Spanish – but that is not very helpful to someone who cannot read either language. How does that person cope with the challenges of living in Northern Virginia if they can’t read? The Lord provided some very kind folks who helped them fill out the sign in sheet and their food order form, and all was well for the moment. But it broke my heart just a little more.
Please pray for our outreach to a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, cultures and challenges. Pray for the Lord to raise up more volunteers, and in particular to raise up someone who’s heart is to reach these people. We really need someone who has the time and heart to take this ministry to the next level. And as you visit with family and friends this Thanksgiving, and eat too much and laugh a lot, and enjoy all that the Lord has blessed you with – be thankful.
If you are willing to donate to the food pantry, consider going to a local Dollar Store, and purchasing several bottles of oil, packages of sugar, canisters of coffee, shampoos, deodorants. For the same amount of money you could bless multiple families in need. We have recurring needs for staple items like corn flour (not corn meal), white flour, oil, sugar, cereal, oatmeal, dried beans, rice, canned soup, canned chicken, tuna, ham and chili. Smaller size containers of items such as flour and sugar are helpful, so we can assist more people. The hygiene items most needed are: laundry detergent, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, sanitary pads, baby wipes, and formula (preferably Similac). Due to a generous donation from the Huggies “A Diaper for Every Bottom” campaign we will not need diapers for some time. You can also donate financially to this ministry by putting “food pantry” in the memo line of your check and dropping it in an offering box during weekend services.
Thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please contact me if you would like more information on getting involved with the RBC Food Pantry.