SOS mission delivers low cost foodMost churches don’t come equipped with shopping carts. Mission Covenant Church in Poplar does. The 25 carts help feed the hungry through the church’s new Sharing One’s Surplus (SOS) Food Share Ministry.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Most churches don’t come equipped with shopping carts. Mission Covenant Church in Poplar does. The 25 carts help feed the hungry through the church’s new Sharing One’s Surplus (SOS) Food Share Ministry.
The second Saturday of each month, starting at 8 a.m. the ministry begins. Anyone can drop by the church and pay $25 per share for food. There are no income or age restrictions; church membership is not required. People can buy as many shares as they choose. And the carts come in handy.
“It makes it so easy for people to just fill up a grocery cart,” said Dinah Johnson, chairwoman for the ministry.
People pay for their tickets from 8-9:30 a.m. at the church. Distribution begins at 10 a.m. Each share provides two to three laundry baskets full of food. Similar to the Ruby’s Pantry food ministry in Duluth, the food is close to expiration date and needs to be consumed quickly.
“We wanted to start this ministry because we wanted to reach out to everyone in our community to offer the opportunity to acquire a large amount of food for a reduce cost,” Johnson said.
Ruby’s Pantry offers food distribution in Duluth, Hermantown and Cloquet. There is also a food ministry in Ashland. Bringing one to Poplar offers residents in the area in between a closer option, Johnson said. They also timed their food distribution so it is not the same time or day as the Duluth or Ashland programs. That way people in need of food have someplace to go every week, Johnson said.
“I think we need to help these people,” she said.
The ministry is coordinated by the Diaconate Board of Mission Covenant Church and volunteers from the church and the community staff the distributions.
SOS features mainly produce ranging from blueberries and bananas to asparagus and peppers. Bread products are available and some months include dairy or novelty items. But the big focus is on fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We really think the fresh produce is so much healthier,” Johnson said. “We want to encourage people to eat healthier.”
Mission Covenant uses the same food distributor as the Ashland program, Jesus Delivers out of St. Paul, Minn. The $25 per share covers the cost of transportation for the food and goes to feed homeless people in St. Paul.
“So it’s like a double win situation,” Johnson said. “We help people here and in the cities.”
The church can sell up to 120, but it needs to sell 90 SOS shares per month to break even.
“We’re not looking to make a drop of money,” Johnson said. “We are just looking to break even.”
In May, its first month of operation, SOS handed out 120 shares. By June, however, that number dropped to 65. Johnson wants to spread the word about the food ministry so everyone can use it. SOS is dedicated to sharing God’s surplus with others.
“This food is God’s gift to us,” Johnson said. “We are giving it as a gift.”
She said the best part of the ministry is working with people and seeing their joy at receiving the food.
“We just want people to see Jesus in us,” Johnson said.
To volunteer or for more information, call the church at (715) 364-2738.