Today’s high inflation impacts households in several ways. While some might feel a pinch at the grocery store, others are severely affected. Mother Estelle Clark Food Pantry in Chambersburg, hosted out of the Bibleway Cathedral, is among the organizations making a difference during this crisis.
Robin Howard, a missionary with Bibleway Cathedral, is soft-spoken as she recites the food pantry’s mission. “Matthew chapter 25.:And the Lord is speaking, and he says, I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was naked. You didn’t clothe me. I was alone. You didn’t visit me? And then the reply comes back. When did we do this unto you Lord? He said when you did it unto the least of my children. So how can we be a spirit-filled church alone but can’t see outside,” Howard said. “How can we look even in this world and not be concerned?”
The Mother Estelle Clark Food Pantry started right before the pandemic, with plans of being a family-style pantry where those looking for food could come in, sit down and eat, but like everything, circumstances quickly changed.
“When the pandemic came, we had to be smarter… But what I found out is that the people needed the food. So they came anyway. So then it was up to us to say, God, you need to protect the people out there and us. We have to continue,” Howard said. They developed a system of taking down names on a Google excel sheet to have a smooth process of handing out food.
“We’re dealing with all kinds of people,” Reverend Andrew Philip Parrot said. “They’re satisfied because our policy is we don’t want to give people things we wouldn’t want. You know, so a lot of our stuff we give away is something we would get if we went to the grocery store.”
They provide a grocery bag full of meats, grains, and canned goods like peanut butter, canned salmon, green beans, lentils, or other types of dry beans. This is on top of partnering with TASK to hand out hot meals to anyone that comes.
Ulysses Peter Anderson Jr., a Volunteer with the Bibleway Cathedral of Deliverance who developed the system, explained that they are out there weekly.
“Rain, shine, sleet, or snow, we don’t stop,” Anderson said. He explained that no matter what they provide to the community. “Hunger doesn’t go away because of weather.”
Throughout the two years, their numbers started to rise. When the pantry began in October 2020, it served about 200 families; by January 2022, that number had increased to approximately 450. In June of 2022, that number has hit over 625 families and averages about 580 hot meals provided TASK meals a week.
“So that’s just one month. And that’s because of inflation…even during the COVID pandemic, we were servicing, but it was nowhere near what it is now; the lines are literally around the corner now,” said Yvette Randolph, executive administrator of Bible way cathedral and supervisor of the Mother Estelle Clark Food Pantry.
In the Northeast area from May 2021 to May 2022, food prices were up 9.60 percent. Prices for food at home advanced 10.4 percent—the largest over-the-year increase in 43 years. Yesterday the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics released that the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 1.3 percent in June and rose 9.1 percent over the last 12 months.
“It’s important because we’re all struggling…What you see in the lines, the people there are good, hardworking people, but they simply can’t make ends meet. And so this is an opportunity for us to be a light in the community, to serve our community, because they’re the ones that needed the most.”
The food pantry is set in the heart of the Hispanic community in Chambersburg, the Mother Estelle Clark Food Pantry serves a diverse amount of clients. Trenton resident Jenifer Yx has been coming to the food pantry for a couple of weeks. She explained how it has helped her provide for her family.
“Because before we couldn’t afford many groceries, other financial programs started cutting our funding, so it has helped a lot in the family…I don’t go to this church, but they have helped a lot regardless of it, and I’m very thankful because they don’t restrict anybody,” Yx said.
The food pantry is looking for volunteers to come and help and is also available to anyone who will wait in line on Thursday for food. For more information, reach out to the Ministry line at 609-310-1813.