By Dave Poore
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Oct. 4, 2015) – Arcadia United Methodist Church has a food pantry which opens the fourth Tuesday of each month and on other occasions as needed. The women’s group volunteers at the pantry, meeting folks and talking to them about our church.
The food pantry was supplied through the congregation's donations for several years. During this past year, Arcadia began partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to supply the pantry.
This past July, the owner of a local insurance agency and frequent contributor to the pantry, Mary Hamilton, proposed another partnership -- with Kingsport Speedway. The idea was to have racetrack attendees bring nonperishable foods each week for Arcadia’s pantry.
Arcadia members went to the track the week before the food drive to distribute flyers. Within three weeks in August, racetrack fans had donated more than 300 pounds of food and $200 in cash.
Arcadia’s food pantry supports our Holston Conference mission to fight poverty within local communities. It has been a blessing to talk to folks about our food pantry. A lot of people are hungry, not only for food but for the Word of God.
I remember one man one in particular who set down a big bag of canned food. You could see, from the smile on his face, that he was part of something bigger than us all -- that he was making a difference. This project has helped our church become more visible in the community, letting people know we care. We are meeting people where they are, planting seeds.
Some of the donated food was used almost immediately. Three Sundays in a row, people came to the church looking for food. One family had been living in their car; another family had spent the night in their car. The snack bags collected at the track on the previous Friday, donated by one of the drivers, gave them something to eat right away.
Arcadia’s plan is to continue the food collection -- when Kingsport Speedway begins its race season in March 2016 -- on a weekly basis throughout the spring and summer. I told our congregation that that we have to look at this as more than just giving someone a can of beans. We are feeding the hungry, as Jesus told us to, but also giving folks a chance to be part of a community of believers.
I pray this may give someone an idea or spark to be a light within their own communities.
The Rev. David Poore is pastor at Arcadia United Methodist Church.