|Guest blog from The Rev. Emily Parker, Executive Director, Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte and Deacon, Christ Church Charlotte
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35
One of our amazing in-house community partners at Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte is Loaves & Fishes. Their food pantry at our site in East Charlotte has been a community constant for many years. It is one of just a few pantries in Mecklenburg County set up to accommodate client choice.
Client choice means the pantry is organized like a mini grocery store. Clients come in and, with the aid of volunteers, shop for their own groceries instead of receiving a box of pre-selected food. If there is a food allergy or dietary restriction in the household, suitable groceries can be chosen.
Each week on Tuesday and Thursday, I am fortunate to hear and see the pantry in full swing, which really means I get to hear and see humanity, dignity, and the heart of community in full swing.
Each week on Tuesday and Thursday, I am fortunate to hear and see the pantry in full swing, which really means I get to hear and see humanity, dignity, and the heart of community in full swing. With shelves stocked and ready, volunteers in place, the back doors of Galilee open, clients are welcomed, check in and start shopping.
Clients are from all over the city, and truly all over the world. While language barriers can be a challenge, translation apps help, human connections are made, buggies are filled, and clients leave knowing there will be food on their table for the next few days.
You may have seen in the news recently that Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays in Mecklenburg County is seeing historic highs in the numbers of neighbors in need of food. During June 2023 they provided a week’s worth of groceries to 10,850 neighbors – the highest count for the month of June in their 48-year history. In fact, it is higher than June 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
This uptick in need is visible at Galilee and has been verified by volunteers who serve week in and week out. There is almost always a full roster of clients scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is usually a line, sometimes out the door. Often people call or come in off the street. We do our best to meet people where they are and not turn anyone away hungry.
To respond to the swell in need, food donations are always needed and appreciated! Preferred items include canned fruit in juice, canned meat, low sodium canned vegetables, canned pastas, bags of dried beans, and fresh produce.
Food donations can be brought to:
- Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte (3601 Central Avenue, Charlotte, 28205), Monday – Thursday between 9 am – 1 pm.
- Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays Warehouse (648 Griffith Drive, Charlotte, 28217), Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm and Saturdays from 9 am – 12 pm.
- On September 10 – 11, Christ Church will hold a Parish Day food drive for Loaves & Fishes. Stay tuned for details!
In service and with thanks,
The Reverend Emily Parker
Christ Episcopal Church