The mission of the St. Thomas' Food Pantry is to address hunger, loneliness, and neglect in our city by providing our neighbors with nutritious food, positive social interactions, and educational information focusing on healthy lifestyles.
Update on the St. Thomas' Food Pantry, May 15, 2020
While so much has changed around us in the past eight weeks, one thing has remained unchanged – the weekly distribution of groceries from the St. Thomas’ Food Pantry, a twenty-plus-year outreach mission of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Thanks to the leadership of our rector, Herbert Jones, pantry manager Liz Pearce, and a core group of devoted volunteers, the pantry has continued to remain open and true to its mission of providing neighbors in need with nutritious food, positive social interactions and educational information focusing on healthy lifestyles.
The week of March 16th, weekly attendance doubled, then later tripled, due to several area food pantries closing down, schools closing and the loss of jobs. Prior to COVID19, typical weekly attendance hovered around 75 households (impacting ~300 people weekly), with 15 to 20 “new" households each week. Attendance climbed to 252 households on May 14th, with 78 new households added that day.
Our partnerships in the community have been critical. We are designated as an Emergency Relief Agency by our local food bank, Feed More, and so we are given additional allocations of USDA inventory and receive weekly deliveries of 12,000 pounds of food. We continue to pick up donated inventory from Food Lion, Montana Gold Bread Company, and have received grocery donations from neighbors. We have received hand crafted masks for our volunteers and guests, and financial donations from church members and community supporters. Most recently, the St. Thomas’ Food Pantry received a grant from Food Lion and was a designated charity for an area wide YMCA food drive. Anthem Healthkeepers donated cloth grocery bags, and Virginia Public Media provided us with educational flyers for our families.
The financial implications have changed our operations, as we have had to purchase grocery bags, since Trader Joes is no longer donating them to us. We are purchasing additional cleaning supplies, gloves, sanitation tools and so forth. The tables, carts and handtrucks we own are getting used in different ways, and since we are retro-fitting equipment, we will need to buy new equipment soon. For example, we are using folding tables to pre-pack bags that are groaning and straining under the weight of the items on the table. If we are to continue our distributions in this manner, we will likely need commercial tables and additional heavy duty carts.
The transition of our food pantry from a “pop-up” style market to a distribution center has not been easy, but we have met our goals each week and have not run out of food. With the ongoing prayers from our church members, donations from our community and a steadfast roster of volunteers, we anticipate continued success. In the words of one of our guests, “We can count on St. Thomas to be here. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
FOOD PANTRY RESPONSE TO COVID-19
In light of concerns about COVID-19, our pantry will remain open on Thursdays, but we will be offering a modified experience that includes recommended social distancing, instead of our typical "pop-up market" set up.
Pre-packed bags will be given out on Thursdays between 2:30 and 5:00 pm. If guests are in cars, they should enter the driveway and pull their car around to the parking lot side of the church, and groceries will be brought out to the car. If guests are walking, groceries will be brought to the Parish Hall door.
Thank you for your understanding and commitment to the wellness of our community.
For information about our Food Pantry or to leave a message call: 804-321-9548. This line can be reached at any time and lists our hours, directions, requirements, weather advisories, or allows you to leave a message. A valid form of ID is helpful, but not required.
Volunteer Opportunities - Please email Food Pantry director, Liz Pearce (LPearce@stthomasrichmond.org)
As a completely volunteer-run organization, St. Thomas depends on volunteer help throughout each week. In response to COVID-19, our volunteer needs have been modified to follow CDC guidelines, as well as best practices indicated by the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Each volunteer will be required to sign a waiver prior to volunteering at the St. Thomas' Food Pantry, stating that they have not traveled within the past two weeks, and that they are not exhibiting symptoms of illness. In addition, we ask that all volunteers follow our Healthy Volunteer Guidelines.
Picking up donated food at Food Lion - Volunteers will pick-up food, document the weight and put away the items our storage rooms. Certain Tuesdays and Thursdays at Food Lion, Azalea Brook Hill, 11:30 am. Takes about one hour.
Pre-packing bags for guests - Volunteers will pack available inventory into grocery bags. Wednesdays at 10 am, Noon and 2:30 pm, Thursdays at 10 am and Noon.
Inventory Management at St. Thomas' - Restocking items, counting totals, organizing the storage area. Wednesdays at 12:00 pm.
Distribution Day - Volunteers will set up tables, chairs, manage inventory, restock shelves and place bags in cars. Thursdays at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.
Food Rescue and Storage - Volunteers will help unload a delivery truck and store it our storage rooms. Volunteers must be able to lift boxes. Wednesdays at 7:30 am.
To volunteer for any of these opportunities, please email Liz Pearce, , or call 804-321-9548.
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Appication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC, 20250-9410, or call toll-free (866) 632-9992 (voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.