Trinity Christian Reformed Church (TCRC) in Ames is filling a need on the west side of town by offering a new Food at First distribution center. TCRC, located at 3626 Ontario St., recently began offering a food pantry on Saturday mornings from 10 – 10:30 a.m.
Pastor Kelly Vander Woude and students from Areopagus, TCRC’s campus ministry, have been involved with Food at First for a couple years, by cooking and serving meals at First United Methodist Church. Vander Woude saw a need for a distribution center on the west side of town, thus he decided to expand TCRC’s relationship with Food at First.
“Some people can’t afford to take the bus to that side of town,” Vander Woude says, regarding the main food pantry located at 116 Washington Ave. “A church needs to be a part of its community, and this is a good way for us to fill that need.”
Although Vander Woude claims TCRC is starting out small, their food pantry was able to feed 31 individuals on its first Saturday.
“The hope is that it can blossom,” he says.
TCRC communications director Jane Sterenberg got TCRC’s youth group involved by having the kids make cookie jars to be handed out at the pantry. The brightly decorated jars include dry ingredients for a cookie recipe.
“The youth are coming in to help with this and it’s great for them to see how this works and to be giving back,” Sterenberg says.
The pantry, much like its original on Washington Avenue, relies on donations from local grocery stores, restaurants and farmers. Depending on its donations, the pantry typically may have meat, eggs, produce, breads and dried goods. TCRC also plans to provide produce from its own garden, cared for by Iowa State students.
Vander Woude says the pantry is open for any person, regardless of where they are in life, to come in and get food.
“We want to get past the stigma of a free meal and see it as a great opportunity for anyone to come and break bread,” he says.
The distribution center at TCRC is volunteer based. There are several ways to help out with Food at First. Visit the nonprofit organization’s website at www.foodatfirst.wordpress.com to sign up to volunteer or to donate. Also, visit the website for more information on when meals are served at First United Methodist Church.
“The point of this is to be a church in a community,” Vander Woude says. “It is a way for us to serve our brothers and sisters.”