Knowing Christ, sharing His love, and helping others to know him.
Food Bank Ministry
Article in Southeast Iowa Union:
The First United Methodist Church in Fairfield has a new program to provide food to the elderly and disabled. The church is working with Milestones Area Agency on Aging and the Food Bank of Iowa through its warehouse in Ottumwa. Former Methodist Church pastor Beth Harbaugh said the church began the program to serve people it felt were falling through the cracks. For instance, a number of agencies in the area help the hungry. A good example is the monthly food boxes that are distributed at the Fairfield Church of the Nazarene, and the regular disbursements at The Lord’s Cupboard. Harbaugh said these are terrific programs, but they usually require that the person receiving the food be able to lift boxes and take them back to their house. Not everybody can do that. “We have a lot of people who are disabled or elderly who can’t lift boxes,” Harbaugh said. “We knew we wanted to help people in that gap.” The church began a food delivery program to serve the elderly and disabled in their homes. Parishioner Steve Ernst heads the program. The church has been gathering non-perishable items such as soups, canned fruit, peanut butter, rice, crackers, vegetables and lots of other cooking supplies. Harbaugh said a group in town called the Hunger Dialogues has been a big help in addressing food insecurity. “We have a lot of hungry people in our community,” she said. “We’re trying to catch all those who need help.”
Those who are interested are asked to call Ernst at 641-472-2879 or 641-919-6352.
The First United Methodist Church also provides some of the food for the First Lutheran Church “Drive-By Supper”. Here is an article from the Southeast Iowa Union about that project: First Lutheran Church in Fairfield is seeking help with its weekly “Come to Supper” program that transformed from a sit-down meal to a “Drive-By Supper” in 2020. Jamie Kuiken, one of the organizers of the event, said demand for the free meals grew steadily toward the end of 2020. The program began in January 2017, where the First Lutheran Church served a free meal twice a month in its dining room. Two years ago, the program expanded so that the church was able to offer a meal every week. The “Drive-By Supper” meals are served every Tuesday from 4-5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. In the early years of “Come to Supper,” the event attracted 50-55 people for each meal. When COVID forced the church to switch to making the meal a drive-through in the spring of 2020, attendance initially dropped to about 30 people per week. But as the year went along, word of the suppers spread, and by November the church was serving 120 people at a time, and one week served as many as 138. Participation has fallen in January to between 80-90 per week, but that’s still nearly twice the number the church served a few years ago. What’s more, the pastor of First Lutheran Church, Greg Friedrich has taken a leave of absence for health reasons. Friedrich, who along with his wife, Gloria, and Kuiken, were the three main coordinators of the event. Three to four members of the church volunteer each week to dish up the meals and sit outside to pass them out. Kuiken said she’s not necessarily looking for another person to help coordinate, but the church could use help in other ways, such as by getting help making the meals from other churches and civic groups. In fact, that’s how the program worked for its first three years, with various groups signing up to deliver meals to the church on a given week. Taking turns making the food prevented any one group from feeling overwhelmed. Kuiken estimates that about 25 difference civic organizations and churches have cooked a meal for “Come to Supper.” After COVID arrived, the church announced that it was no longer accepting food from outside groups, and that it would take care of making the meals until further notice. In October, the church reversed that policy and invited local organizations to begin contributing food once more. “We’ll get a church to donate casseroles, and then we’ll supplement it with applesauce, carrots or some other vegetable,” Kuiken said. “That’s made it easier. Once the attendance got so high, it was hard to make all the casseroles ready and keep them hot. We need about 10 casseroles each week.” Kuiken said multiple groups can join forces for a single week if making such a large amount of food is too difficult for them.
The First Lutheran Church is located at 201 W. Briggs Ave in Fairfield. Its phone number is 641-472-4184.