Outreach Begins with a Sandwich Sign
Story by Margot Bass
The Food Closet provides food for their community in Greenwood, CA.
In 2000, Max and Gail Archer would never have guessed that the call on their hearts to take over their small church’s food pantry would have them giving away 6,000-8,000 pounds of food a week now, 20 years later. The Food Closet at Calvary Chapel Georgetown Divide in Greenwood, CA, initially served only church members, but the Archers felt that God wanted them to do more. Following Jesus’ example to feed the hungry, they placed a “Free Food” sandwich sign at the end of the road—initially bringing in 20-25 families. Shortly after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, God led them to provide complete Thanksgiving meals for those households. “That was the beginning of what is now a food ministry that serves 100-150 households every week,” remarked Gail.
Every food giveaway begins with a short prayer, teaching, and sometimes testimonies and stories. Food Closet visitors are “fed the best spiritual meal we can dish out in five minutes,” reflected Pastor Jay McCarl. Many linger to enjoy coffee, pastries, and conversation; often that is the only human contact they have all week. Some have recently turned from drug addiction and now “follow hard after Jesus,” serving others in love and grace. As Gail observed, “That is really ‘church’ for those families—and us. We all participate. It’s a very close community.”
The Placer County Food Bank supplies most of the food for a fee paid by the church. In addition, volunteers make five trips a week, driving many miles, to pick up food donations from area grocery stores. One church member donated a flatbed trailer that allows them to move tons of food to their location, where it is sorted and given away every Tuesday. There are now more than 30 volunteers between the ages of 20-80 who participate and have “grown enormously in grace and ministry,” added Pastor Jay.
The biggest challenge is funding. CC Georgetown Divide is a small church that now feeds more people than its 200-member congregation. The Archers don’t let that worry them, though. The ministry sign says, “All food is provided by the generosity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”—and they mean it.
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