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Pilgrim Church Food Ministry - Strong Anchor to the Community

Pilgrim Church’s "Food Ministry"

Pilgrim Church’s "food ministry" provides a strong anchor for all members of the Uphams Corner community.  Defining much of their urban ministiry, food-related activities include:
  • Distributing soup, pasta, sandwiches, beverages and clothing to over a hundred needy individuals on Boston Common every Saturday morning
  • Serving a nutritious, free lunch to over a hundred people from the community every Saturday
  • Serving over sixty families every month at the church’s Emergency Food Pantry
  • Distributing free bread three mornings every week

Rev. John Odams and volunteers, both from the congregation and from churches and other organizations throughout the Boston area, come to Pilgrim to prepare and to serve.  The biggest day is Saturday starting at 7am and ending around 3pm with the food distribution on the Boston Common at 9am and lunch served to the community starting at 12 noon.

Preparing food for distributionHowever, the church is alive with volunteers throughout the week.  The first "order of the week" is placing orders with the Greater Boston Food Bank for the food needed to carry out the work of the Food Pantry, serving on the Common and cooking the Community Lunch.

If you or someone you know needs help from the food pantry, please call Project Bread's Food Source Hotline (1-800-645-8333).  Pilgrim Church's food pantry is not a "walk-in food pantry" but rather serves as a local arm of Project Bread. 

Then comes the task of picking up the food. 

Here's a great story: 

A group of adults with developmental disabilities travel from Watertown each week (this has been ongoing for over 8 years) to transport food from the Greater Boston Food Bank to the Pilgrim Church. For them, this is a favorite activity.  Not only is it a wonderful outting, but they set themselves goals and look forward to setting a record each week of how much they can transport. 

They load the boxes of food into the van, drive to the Pilgrim Church and unload the food. 
How disappointed some are if the order is small - but .... there's always next week.
Finally, local volunteers separate the food into pantry packages. 

Making "Bread Baskets"

Well versed in their weekly responsibilities, these volunteers also prepare "bread baskets" from bread donated by Whole Foods, Trader Joes and other organizations committed to donating rather than trashing their food. "Only one per family," the sign says.  Chock full of bagels, french bread, whole grain bread and more and free for anyone who stops by, one bread basket (standard grocery store size plastic bag) is more than enough.  

On Saturdays, volunteers arrive at 7am to begin preparing food for serving on the Boston Common.  The muffins and other snacks were wrapped the day before, but breakfast on the common also includes a hot meal (chili, American chop suey or a hearty soup) prepared that morning.  After the church van leaves for the Common, cooks turn their efforts to preparing a nutritous and "down home" tasty lunch for the community - all of it free. 

Pilgrim Church Food Ministry Pilgrim Church Food Ministry

Today’s menu depends wholly on the food available that week from the Food Bank:

  • Fresh mixed salad
  • Meat and cooked veggies
  • Starch such as potatoes, pasta or rice
  • Beverage - juice, coffee, water
  • Dessert

Pilgrim Church Food Ministry Pilgrim Church Food Ministry

Diners and Servers Praise Saturday Lunch

Bob: The food is excellent here. Besides that, it's free. My favorite four letter word. What do I mean by "excellent"?  It's community.  This church is part of our community. You can see I’m sitting at my table by myself.  I like being alone but I also like being with community. That’s how the Pilgrim lunch makes me feel - really good.
June: I’ve been coming here for lunch on Saturdays for about three years.  I really look forward to it every Saturday morning.  Yes, I know a few people here, but it doesn't really matter if I know them by name. Eating is a social activity. Most the time I eat by myself at home. 

Coming here gives me a chance to see the same people every week - my friends. We greet each other: "How are you?" And what's so nice is that if I miss a couple weeks, people actually tell me they missed me. They make me feel like I'm part of community. Besides the food is excellent, good home cooking.
Jorge: I’m the mail carrier who delivers mail to the church. I bring the mail and then I sit down to lunch.  Why do I come here?  Because they asked me to. And they tell me that I should let other people know about the lunch, too.  Invite other people. The people here are very nice and the food is good.

I have been coming here for lunch for many, many years. I go way back. I don't know if you know about this but there was a time when the church served lunch every day for $.50. That was almost 30 years ago.
Clifford: I've been coming here for lunch for about five or six years. I live in the neighborhood and the food is very good. The people who come to lunch here are really nice.  I like them.
Cynthia: I have been helping out here, serving lunch for about 1 1/2 years. To me it is a meaningful way to give back to this wonderful community and to support Pilgrim Church in its untiring efforts to serve the needs of the community and to fulfill their mission. Serving here has been such a wonderful experience.

I don't have to eat any food but I feel filled up when I go home. There's something about just getting out here.  There’s a clear sense about the people, too, grateful.  You can tell by the smiles and their responses.  Not all the people react that way.  Some seem to be caught up in issues.  I’m not looking for thank you’s. I just continue to do what I'm called to do and eventually… People will realize they are loved.

Posted: November 12, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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