It is a half an hour before the doors open and the parking lot is already full. The front door to the Fleming Baptist Church opens and a dozen people jump out of their car thinking it is time for bi-monthly food commodities, but it’s just a false alarm.
The church has been serving as the Ray County Harvesters Food Distribution Center for just a few months. Rev. Fred Kelley said the church started distributing food the third week of October. The church distributes food on the first and third Wednesdays of each month to about 40 families.
Kelley said the help the church is providing is not enough. He said the church voted to spend $200 a month on food purchases but church members are spending about $150 each distribution.
Church members go to the Harvesters food bank and pick up some items for free. However, some items have to be paid for because Harvesters has to pay for the items.
When the church first started the distributions a three to four hour window was established for distributions. Now the church distributes from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the third Wednesdays of the month and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Kelley said the church runs out of food much quicker than what was first expected.
“We’ve found that within an hour and a half it’s all gone,” Kelley said. “Since then we found out that is not nearly enough. It’s a ministry that is becoming ever more needed. We found that out too.”
Church member Janice Haynes said one week some families had to be turned away because the church ran out of food. She said to compound the problem, food prices will soon start to rise as well. She said Harvesters has been operating under a grant that has allowed them to sell items for 33 percent less. She said the grant funds would run out soon.
“Even $10 right now will buy a couple of cases of canned goods,” she said, about how far a dollar stretches at the food bank. “A little bit later on it will just buy one, because they’re going to go up.”
Kelley said the church is seeking monetary donations in addition to food donations. He said the church accepts non-perishable items and bulk fresh produce donations as well.
“A hundred dollars for each distribution just doesn’t get it, so we need help,” Kelley said.
For more information about helping, contact Haynes at 816-776-7261.
Photo: Harvesters volunteers Kelly Munson, left and Janice Haynes prepare for families waiting outside the doors of the Fleming Baptist Church on Wednesday night. The church disperses food twice a month to about 40 families. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)