Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz in Austin has actively served its community through a food pantry ministry for the past 20 years.
Through a partnership with the Texas Baptists Hunger Offering and the Central Texas Food Bank, the church has opened its pantry every Wednesday to give out food products to those in need. Throughout this past year, the church has seen a tremendous growth in the people blessed by this ministry.
Rose M. Irizarry, food pantry co-director, shared that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more people have sought help from their food pantry.
“Before COVID, we were averaging about 80-85 people representing different families from the community. Once the COVID crisis came, we started getting a lot of people that hadn’t regularly come to our food bank. We grew a lot in those months and started averaging 100-120 families. Now, I’d say we’re probably averaging about 145-150 families from the community on a weekly basis,” she said.
In order to be prepared and fully equipped to provide for their growing community’s needs, Irizarry explained that the ministry has a specific process of collecting and storing the food before distribution.
Alongside the weekly arrangements of managing the food pantry ministry, Irizarry and the church volunteers must also follow several federal guidelines and state regulations regarding food storage and distribution. For example, everyone who comes to receive food must register by filling out a form and providing some form of identification.
Other guidelines include particular conditions in which different products must be stored, following COVID-19 social distancing protocols, following several different cleaning protocols and even having all church volunteers wear gloves when handling food distribution.
“Most people don’t realize this but running a food bank ministry takes a lot of work. There’s more rules than anything else, but we have to follow them in order to get this food to others,” shared Irizarry.
The importance of the Hunger Offering
“A couple of years ago, Pastor Nestor Menjivar, our church’s lead pastor, was contacted by the Austin Baptist Association and encouraged to apply to the Hunger Offering. Through them, our church started receiving funds which are not related to the Central Texas Food Bank. This has been a great blessing for us in the overall organization and management of this food pantry ministry,” explained Irizarry.
The Hunger Offering is a special offering Texas Baptists has designated for the purpose of ending hunger and poverty through the work of different ministries in Texas and around the world.
Katie Frugé, director of the program, explained how the Hunger Offering unites the body of Christ to promote a holistic transformation in the name of Jesus.
“The Hunger Offering has empowered communities with much needed resources that they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise. Through the Hunger Offering, smaller ministries such as the food pantry at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz can continue faithfully serving and meeting their community’s needs. When it comes to participation, a little can really go a long way,” she shared.
For the food pantry ministry at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz, the Hunger Offering funds enabled the ministry to adapt to the new conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People couldn’t freely come in or out; we had to keep our distance and even separate ourselves from clients and church volunteers. Through our funds with the Hunger Offering, we were able to buy gloves, sanitizers, masks and other needed supplies to keep everyone safe. As we’ve experienced a lot of growth, the Hunger Offering has been a great blessing to our ministry,” shared Irizarry.
Although COVID-19 regulations are changing throughout the state of Texas, Irizarry and the team of church volunteers at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz will continue to faithfully serve their community through this food pantry ministry.
If you would like more information about the food pantry ministry at Iglesia Bautista Principe de Paz, please visit their website at www.pdpaustin.org.
For more information about the Hunger Offering, go to hungeroffering.org.