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FISH Needs Food! The pantry is bare!

Tis is an article by Pastor Gary Lewis, First United Methodist Church, Crawfordsville, IN.
This is what has been on my heart lately as I consider an organization I care deeply about: the FISH food pantry. I continue to believe Montgomery County is an incredible place to live with generous people doing extraordinary things to make the community better. I have had this reoccurring dream, though, about how things could be.
The FISH food pantry has been located in the church I serve, First United Methodist Church, for many years. Our congregation has provided space for the food to be stored, maintained the elevator critical for the volunteers to distribute the food each day and made Wesley Library the gathering place for persons needing food.
When I think about our Wesley Library, a smile comes to my face. When you think of the word “library” you think about a place for quiet contemplation and meeting space. And yes, that does happen in our library.
More than not, though, five mornings a week, it is a busy place where people come and receive nutrition education, fill out forms for the food and wait for the volunteers to come with their food boxes. It is a place full of laughter at times, a place full of pain and hurt and embarrassment at times, and a place of hope. My prayer is it will always be a welcoming place.
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, would be happy with the way we use this room named after him. He was all about making faith real in practical ways to the needy. He may have come from a tradition of quiet contemplation and polite meetings, but the Holy Spirit changed him forever. He was an advocate for the least of these because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
In my opinion, I think it is news when the food pantry shelves are empty. Low and empty shelves should sound an alarm. Yet, even with my best efforts, the word just doesn’t get out.
We need more food in the food pantry, folks. We need non-perishable food of every kind, boxed meals, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, soup and crackers, macaroni and cheese, canned meat, rice, noodles, cereal, canned fruit, vegetables and fruit juices. Other non-food items needed are toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, detergent and dish soap.
You can drop off the food five days per week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., most of the time. We have a grocery cart at the end of the hallway.  It is located at the north door by the road we call the alley – right by the parking lot.
If you need to deliver the food at another time, call the church office at 765-362-4817 and leave a message with our Administrative Assistant, Sherrie Lacy. If you prefer to give money instead of food, write a check to “FISH” with “food pantry” on the memo line and mail it to FISH, P.O. Box 231, Crawfordsville, IN 47933.
Of course, local churches throughout the community collect food for the pantry and have volunteers who deliver it.
My dream is that every week that not just the cart but the entire hallway would be full of food. In fact, I would like to have the happy problem of having the doorway and the hallway so full of food we would need to find more volunteers to put the food away each and every day.
I think it would happen if people knew the need. It is so easy to forget our obligation to the needy. We get caught up in the busyness of our own lives that we forget to make sure that we provide for those who are caught up in the world of unemployment and underemployment. We forget about those who struggle with the basic necessities.
The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up some extra food items for the pantry. People in our community need it.
I don’t need to tell you the statistics. The number of students in our school systems qualifying for free and reduced meals remains high. Professionals who track such need tell us more and more people in Montgomery County are having trouble affording food for their families.
The Bible is clear about our obligation to the needy. These words to the Israelites should be our community’s mission statement: “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 15:10) When it comes to our faith, God is all about upside-down thinking. When we give generously, we often think it is a sacrifice. Yet, the happiest people I know are those who give generously.
Another bumper sticker could be Proverbs 14:31: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” I can’t think of a better way to show kindness to the needy than by giving to the food pantry.
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