Florence Christian Church meets growing community food needs with grant from Wellcare
In March 2020, the Christian Church in Florence provided 97 households with free food. Since then, the numbers have steadily increased, peaking at 449 in mid-July this year.
“There are a lot of people who are really hurting,” said Melissa Stephens, outreach minister and communications coordinator for the church. “We have people queuing for over two hours to receive food.”
As part of her “Feeding the Multitudes Ministries” program, Florence Christian offers the “Care & Share Food Pantry” and the “Free Fresh Food Distribution”. The pantry is available 24/7 and guests are encouraged to bring whatever they need. The food distribution program is available at 2:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
“We are so grateful,” said a woman waiting in line on a recent Tuesday. “Our cabinets were bare.”
While produce and bread are donated, the church uses WellCare grant funds to purchase protein-based items for both programs.
“This ministry is an important reminder that not everyone has access to things that many of us take for granted,” said Corey Ewing, president and CEO of WellCare Plan. “We appreciate the work Florence Christian Church does for its community and are proud to help fund their efforts.”
The WellCare grant also funds the operating expenses of the church’s Fresh Start Shower Ministry. The program provides access to showers and laundry facilities. Hygiene products and snacks will also be provided free of charge. The service is available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to the church, showers are often used by people after a night shift, before job interviews or during a persistent rainy season.
“This ministry allows people to sit down with others who are going through the same struggles and share their stories,” Stephens said. “They find renewed energy to return to the hostile world of seeking food and shelter.”
Debbie, a woman who is currently homeless and lives in her vehicle, regularly seeks church services and appreciates its reach.
“Today I know I don’t need to be hungry,” she said.
Florence Christian Church