Church adds food pantry to help those in need

When Father and Son Love Ministries launched a summertime lunch program last year, its only aim was to share food with those needing it — with no strings attached.

Now, the church — tucked away in a commercial office plaza at 24156 Foggy Ridge Parkway, in Lutz — has branched out.

In addition to serving free bag lunches, it also has a free food pantry.

Pastor C.J. Johns Sr., and Assistant Pastor Ken Waters volunteer in a ministry that aims to spread hope by sharing food with those in need. (B.C. Manion)

Again, no strings attached.

The food ministry operates on Fridays, from noon to 3 p.m. and on Sundays, after 11 a.m. (Note: It will be closed July 5, for the Fourth of July holiday).

Red and white signs — one posted at Foggy Ridge Parkway and State Road 54, and another closer to the storefront church — let passersby know about the food ministries.

The word hasn’t circulated widely yet, but there were some folks at the food pantry last week, accepting the church’s help.

Last week, an elderly woman was there, with a friend, to do a little “shopping.”

Becky Morrow, a church volunteer, led the woman around tables stocked with breads, pastries, canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals, pastas, rice and other foods.

Those in need are welcome to come to a food pantry ministry, operated by Father and Son Love Ministries. There are fruits, vegetables and frozen meats available.

The woman, who was using a walker, let Morrow know which items she would like, and Morrow packed it up for her.

As the woman and her friend prepared to leave, another volunteer Carolyn Curtis, told the elderly woman: “Blessings, blessings, blessings to you.”

Pastor C. J. Johns Sr., who launched the lunch ministry a year ago, said the church simply wants to help people.

The pastor said the lunch program “sort of morphed” and then, “one thing led to another.”

Tampa Bay Harvest is now the food ministry’s main supplier. Publix and Publix GreenWise donate bread, pastries, fruit and other items.

Church members and other contributors provide money to help stock the pantry.

Terry Gonzalez, who also goes by the name Maria, is one of the volunteers at the food pantry ministry. Those coming for a free lunch at the church will find that it isn’t stingy with the turkey in its turkey sandwiches.

And, just like the free lunch program, there’s no paperwork to fill out. No IDs are required, either, the pastor said.

“We want to give people hope in human beings, again,” Johns said.

The only requirement is to say how many people the recipient needs to feed.

“You’ve got four people, we want to make sure you have enough for four,” Johns said. The church wants to help as many people as it can, that are in need.

It relies on the honor system, for recipients to be truthful.

A little while later, after the elderly woman left last week, a couple arrived, with their granddaughter.

They were there to pick up food for two families: A family of three and a family of four.

As they made their rounds around the tables, volunteers helped to fill their boxes.

Food pantry volunteer Carolyn Curtis said she enjoys being involved. ‘I am blessed to be part of this.’

Pastor Johns asked the woman: “Do you need some milk?”

She responded: “We could always use milk. We could take a cow home with us.”

The pastor went into the church’s kitchen, got a gallon of milk and handed it to the woman.

“It’s a wonderful thing that you’re doing,” the man remarked.

“To God be the glory,” replied Curtis, who said she enjoys helping.

“I am blessed to be part of this,” Curtis said. “With all of the challenges that people have today, they should not have to worry about feeding their family.”

Besides fruits and vegetables, and other staples, the food pantry also offers coleslaw, potato salad, eggs, egg salad and frozen meats, although the selection varies from week to week.

Assistant Pastor Ken Water said, “We give them enough food to last at least a week and a half, to help them out.

“We’re still not asking for anything. Just come in, and be in need.”

For the free lunches, church volunteers prepare bag lunches, which include a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich. They also have bottled water and a dessert.

Sean Saylor, who lives in Land O’ Lakes, is what the church calls “a delivery angel” — carting boxes of food to people who need help, but can’t get to the church.

Canned goods are among the items being offered to help feed families and individuals, at the free food pantry.

Maria Gonzalez, who also goes by the name Terry, is another volunteer. She was at the pantry recently, preparing bag lunches.

The Wesley Chapel woman pointed out that the ministry doesn’t skimp on the amount of turkey it puts in its sandwiches.

To prove her point, she went to the kitchen and pulled one of the sandwiches out of the refrigerator.

“It’s a hearty sandwich,” she declared. “ Seriously. Usually you see like two little slices (of turkey).”

Linda Wright, another volunteer, became familiar with the church a year ago, when she brought her son and daughter-in-law in to pick up some bag lunches.

The Lutz woman was so impressed by the church’s kindness and warmth, she joined the church and got involved.

“There’s no other service like this, in this area, and there’s a lot of people who need this service,” Wright said. “I believe in everything this church does for everybody. So, I’m here to help do it for them.

“The slogan of the church is ‘Changing the world, one person at a time.’ And, we’re doing it,” Wright said.

Feeding the hungry
What: Father and Son Love Ministries’ food pantry and lunch program
Where: 24156 Foggy Ridge Parkway, in Lutz (Off State Road 54, behind car dealership and car wash)
When: Fridays, noon to 3 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.
Cost: Free
Details: This church ministry offers free lunches, as well as fruits, vegetables, staples and other groceries from a free food pantry, for those in need.
Info: Call (813) 383-8410.

Published July 03, 2019

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