The Extending Missional Impact Committee has awarded $12,600 to 14 congregations to feed those facing hunger or food scarcity in their communities. The Bishop’s Thanksgiving Offering and the Dakotas Methodist Foundation provided grant funds.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 35, we are reminded to feed God’s people, “For I was hungry, and you gave me food.” Hunger ministries are examples of how congregations throughout the Dakotas Conference provide for God’s people, both bodies and souls.
Knollwood Townhouse Food Pantry
Food insecurity continues to be an essential issue in Rapid City and the Dakotas. In South Dakota, around one in every nine adults and one in every six children struggle to know where their next meal will come from. People who live in the Knollwood Heights neighborhood need to travel a mile or more for groceries. This a challenge for several people who live on a limited income and have limited transportation.
Knollwood Heights United Methodist Church, located a few blocks from the Knollwood Townhouse complex, is bringing hope to the residents through a food pantry. The food pantry, which partners with the Rapid City police substation at the townhouses, is meant to supplement, not to be the primary food source, and is open on weekdays after school.
Funds received through a Dakotas Conference Hunger Grant will help purchase food items for the Knollwood Townhouse Food Pantry, which serves 75 families monthly. The congregation supplies donations and food items are purchased through Feeding South Dakota. Read about how the food pantry got started in 2019.
Little Free Food Pantry
In St Thomas, North Dakota, people sometimes struggle to get to the nearest grocery store, 25 miles away. So, the people at the St. Thomas United Methodist Church, the only church in town, started a Free Little Food Pantry. A refurbished newspaper dispenser sits in the entryway to the local café and post office. Shelves hold nonperishable food items.
Food donations come from the members of the congregation. In addition, the congregation holds community events to encourage the community to get involved. For example, the “Stuff the Great Pumpkin” event was held in October. People were encouraged to fill a garbage can dressed like a pumpkin with canned food. The garbage can was refilled several times.
Funds from the Hunger Grant for the Free Little Food Pantry will go towards signage and food. Permanent signs that do not block the view of food pantry items inside will adhere to the food dispenser to inform the public how they can support the project. In addition, signs will include the mailing address for monetary donations and instructions on how to leave in-kind food products at the site.
Read more about the Free Little Food Pantry. Watch a video about the ministry of St. Thomas UMC.
14 grants awarded
Feeding hungry people is a longstanding mission outreach of the Dakotas Conference. In the past, fall mission events were held to raise funds for those in need. These events have been discontinued, but people are still hungry, and there is a need to continue funding local hunger ministries.
“For a variety, the fall mission events that supplied funds for hunger grants are no longer happening,” said Al Roll, Mission Impact Development Coach for the Dakotas Conference. “We are searching for a way to sustain the funding. The 2022 Thanksgiving Offering was a start. We are open to ideas for a sustainable funding model.”
Here is a list of the 22 Hunger Grant recipients:
The Harvest Table, a ministry of First United Methodist Church, Brookings, South Dakota: First UMC serves a hot meal each week to 70-80 people free of charge.
Stewards Against Hunger, a ministry of the United Methodist Church in Clear Lake, South Dakota: The UMC in Clear Lake gathers food and provides weekend food bags for 40 students in the Deuel School District. They also offer coupons for students to purchase fresh food from the grocery store.
Café 1st, a ministry of First United Methodist Church in Fargo, North Dakota: A meal provided weekly by the church for church and community members. They also do a holiday meal on Christmas Day. Annually, there are 2,700 meals served.
Gregory School Backpack Program, a ministry of the United Methodist Church in Gregory, South Dakota: Each week, bags of food are provided for 30-40 students in the Gregory School District.
Hazen Food Pantry, a ministry of Salem United Methodist Church in Hazen. North Dakota: The United Methodist Church in Hazen partners with the community to provide food for families and individuals in need.
God’s Beach Bucket, a ministry of Beach United Methodist Church in Howard, South Dakota: The Beach Bucket is a roadside food pantry providing food and hygiene products. The food pantry is open twenty-four hours a day.
The Gathering Meal, a ministry of the United Methodist Church in Madison, South Dakota: Madison UMC serves a hot drive-through meal each week to 250 community members. Organizations and businesses throughout the community partner with Madison UMC to feed those in need.
Dakota Valley Backpack, a ministry of ARK United Methodist Church in North Sioux City, South Dakota: The ARK UMC provides for 38 children each week in the local school who are food insecure.
Knollwood Townhouse Food Pantry, a ministry of Knollwood Heights United Methodist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota: Knollwood Heights UMC has established a food pantry located in a neighborhood that is a food desert. It serves 75 families each month.
The Banquet Christmas meal, a ministry of First United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota: First UMC in Sioux Falls, partners with a community-wide ministry, The Banquet, to provide an extraordinary Christmas meal for 500 guests who might not experience the glorious food at Christmas time.
Feeding Hayward, a ministry of Sunnycrest United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Once a month, Sunnycrest prepares and serves a hot meal for 175 children in their families in the Hayward neighborhood.
The Banquet, a ministry of Southeast Pierre Community Center in Pierre, South Dakota: Each week, 300 people come for a hot meal prepared and served by local churches, organizations, and businesses in the Pierre area. Southeast Pierre Community Center is a ministry started by the Dakotas Conference that is now a community-wide ministry.
Little Free Food Pantry, a ministry of the United Methodist Church in St. Thomas, North Dakota: Members of the United Methodist Church in St. Thomas installed a “Little Free Pantry” inside the local building that houses the community’s post office and cafe. An unused newspaper dispenser was transformed into a food pantry.
Wednesday evening meals at First United Methodist Church in Yankton, South Dakota: Each week on Wednesday, dinner is served for 50-60 people at First UMC. The meal happens right before children’s and youth ministry activities.