Sept. 18, 2018
RE: Pantry Pals/ a ministry of Union Ave. Christian Church
Pantry Pals is continuing its mission to provide weekend meals to students in Litchfield for the 2018-2019 school year. Pantry Pals, a ministry of Union Avenue Christian Church, began provides meals to children who rely on the free meals they receive at school during the week. The congregation became concerned about the problems of food insecurity in our community and began looking for ways to address these problems during the fall of 2016. When it became evident that many children did not always have adequate food during the weekends when they were not in school, Pantry Pals was formed to meet this obvious need.
Beginning in January of 2017, the group began by providing meals for 22 students at Litchfield Middle School. Since that time, their mission has grown to include 95 students in grades K-8. Each Friday, students who have been identified by school administrators receive a shopping bag of food for their weekend. Each bag includes two entrees, two breakfasts, two snacks, one drink and one piece of fresh fruit. During three-day weekends and longer school breaks, Pantry Pals provides additional meals.
When this ministry began, the group had no idea how they were going to finance this important mission, but they believed they were being called to meet this need in their local community. They had seed money from the estate of a long-time congregation member, and with those funds and a few generous donations from other members of their congregation, Pantry Pals met with administrators at the Middle School and then went on their first shopping trip. Since that time Union Avenue Christian Church-Pantry Pals has relied on donations and grants to provide the funding for this important work.
Pantry Pals is quick to admit that without help from the Kilton Foundation, the Baker Trust, the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin Mission First Grant, Illinois Education Association SCORE grant, Walmart and Big Dawg Dare grants, HSHS St. Francis Hospital, and continuing donations from individuals, they could not continue. Members of the group say that they are amazed every time they feel like their mission may be running on fumes and then a grant or large donation just appears when it is needed most.
Pantry Pals has faith that as long as this ministry is needed in our community, they will continue to find ways to keep it going. They are a non-profit ministry and donations are always welcomed. If you would like more information about this group and their mission, you can contact Union Avenue Christian Church in Litchfield or [email protected].