A $1,000 Matthew 25 Grant from American Baptist Churches USA is enabling First Baptist Church in Melrose, Mass., to serve 237 families in need in a small Boston suburb.
“We are especially thankful for the grant,” explains Lisa Dow of the church. “Our Pantry of Hope is a wonderful outreach that has been a tremendous addition to our community. Each week we never know how many people will come to us, but the fact that we are here and have food, and in abundance, is a great source of hope to many individuals. Many of our folks come only when they are facing a need, but having the Food Pantry accessible helps them manage with one less worry in their lives.”
Dow explains that the abundance of food offers a variety of options to visitors and means that during some weeks additional food called “freebies” becomes available. “The Food Pantry provides our church with a uniquely rich in kindness and caring environment for our volunteers and customers alike,” Dow says.
The congregation also provides individuals and families with special meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas, giving out pre-cooked turkeys as well as stuffing, vegetables, potatoes and gravy, usually providing cranberry sauce, fresh vegetables, fresh bread and rolls so that visitors may be able to enjoy a nice meal with friends and family.
Dow says the grant is being used to purchase more sugar-free and gluten-free items “as there is a demand for these, but our supply is usually very minimal. Since we serve families with children, snacks, juice and hearty meals with them in mind are welcome.” The grant has also enabled the purchase of special grocery items not available through the Boston Food Bank, with which Pantry of Hope is a partner. Visitors also receive Christian literature and are always invited to congregational events.
First Baptist’s Pastor Damaris Cami-Staples says she founded Pantry of Hope 16 years ago when she first became associated with the congregation. “Since then the Pantry has been growing steadily,” she says. “And we are getting a lot of support from community businesses, other churches and individuals. We are grateful for all the support we receive, including the ABCUSA grant!”
The Matthew 25 Grant initiative, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.”