The Faith in Food Pantry Creation Story
In March 2020, Beacon of Hope member Dini Palmer started a temporary hot meals service during the first weeks of the pandemic. Palmer, whose chef manager position ended due to COVID-19, knew she needed to stay busy and felt called to help others. Beacon of Hope gave her the green light to use the full kitchen in the church. Dini also received the blessing and financial support from Pastor Heather Kattan, who said "Have Faith".
Initially, Dini thought the hot meals outreach would continue for a month. However, the pandemic raged on and it was apparent that there was a continued need within the community. The program was regularly serving 70 hot meals each night. This was a group effort; with help from Beacon of Hope member Deb Capozzoli who supplied the delicious desserts as well as meal delivery volunteers from Beacon of Hope and the surrounding neighborhood.
Of course, any hot meals program requires funding. Palmer reported that the program received some funding from donations through the church's Facebook account, and those that could afford to pay $5.00 per meal continued to do so. The program received a big boost when the church received a grant from the UMCOR pandemic fund.
Beacon of Hope’s hot meals program got media attention and a story about the initiative was in United Methodist publications. While it was incredibly exciting and gratifying for Dini Palmer to see her vision come to fruition, she realized that she needed to go back to a paying job and could not dedicate all her time to the meals program. However, the community's need for hot meals was a continuing reality. Beacon of Hope still wanted to do something and so, working with the Collaborative Ministries Team, the realization of a true calling emerged. As a church, Beacon of Hope felt called to provide "Nourishment without judgement" to those in our community. It was at this juncture that the hot meals program subsided, and the Faith in Food Pantry began.
In the early spring of 2021, Beacon of Hope’s Faith in Food pantry was open on Fridays from 4:00-6:00 pm. Later, Faith in Food established a partnership with Michele Matties (a Framingham resident with the same passion) and the pantry began offering fresh produce on Tuesdays in the Beacon of Hope parking lot. Beacon of Hope also has a garden on-site, and thus, along with Matties’ contacts with local farms, fresh produce was available through October 2021. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant reared its ugly head in November 2021, and adjustments needed to be made to the pantry’s offerings.
As of February 2022, the Faith in Food pantry returned on Fridays from 4:00-6:00 pm. For anyone who needs some nourishment without judgment, they can come and choose from fresh meat, poultry and fish, plant-based proteins, canned goods, staples, fresh bread, bagels, milk, eggs, butter, gluten-free items, as well as toiletries, paper supplies, and cleaning products.
When the American Rescue Plan stimulus payments ended, the Faith in Food pantry saw an uptick in people using the services. True to the slogan, Faith in Food provides nourishment without judgment, and in addition, no documentation or proof of income is required to use the program.
Continued funding for the Faith in Food program is through generous donations of financial support, food, or household products.
If people are called to donate financially, they should visit beaconofhopeumc.org and click "Give Online." Scroll to Faith in Food and tap Give.
If donating food or household goods, visit the Beacon of Hope United Methodist Church, located at 360 Water Street in Framingham. Look for the Handicap access ramp by Fellowship Hall, where black bins are located for donations. Anyone donating is asked to ensure that the products have proper best buy or use-by dates.
THANK YOU!!! To all those within the Beacon of Hope community and beyond, who have so generously contributed with donations of all kinds.
THANK YOU!!! To our local Target and BJ’s Wholesale Club for their continued support of Faith in Food.