Published December 4, 2008
More often than not the shelves are empty at church – and association-sponsored food banks across the state. At the same time, requests for help are at an all-time high.
“For years we had surplus funds for our food ministry, but gradually we’ve had to use more and more of the surplus and this year we applied for World Hunger funds to help meet the need,” said John McBride, associational missionary at Polk Haralson Association.
The traditionally low-income area was hit hard when two men’s suit companies and an Arrow shirt company moved their clothing industries out of the country. Education levels are low with only a 50 percent high school graduation rate and a 25 percent illiteracy rate.
The food ministry has been helping the community for 19 years. About half of the association’s 63 churches provide food and funds to support the weekly ministry.
“There’s a shell left now,” McBride said. “Another industry will shut down before Christmas. Our biggest crisis has developed in the last six months. We had our highest number of people helped last month. We average 40 families in a day and in one day we helped 67 families.”
Storehouse Ministries, a 28-year-old ministry of Noonday Association, is experiencing the same kind of growth?in requests.
“The increase is almost double from about 75 food boxes a week to 150 to 175 boxes a week,” said coordinator Ann Cobb. “I expect the churches to rise to the occasion and they have. We have enough food right now – it just goes out as soon as it comes in.
“We’re also seeing a record number of new clients, including a lot more single men and a lot more men with custody of their children,” she said.
World Hunger funds for the state are administered through the Georgia Baptist Convention. This year, Georgia Baptists gave $90,443 to be used in Georgia – the rest of the World Hunger funds are used nationally and internationally. However, the GBC has distributed $151,000 to food ministries. The excess is surplus from previous years.
Georgia Baptist churches donate World Hunger Funds that are distributed throughout the world, including in Georgia. While October is World Hunger month, funds can be sent at any time. For information about World Hunger funds, contact Ricky Thrasher at email@example.com, (770) 936-5223, or (800) RING GBC.
You and your church can send World Hunger funds and Cooperative Program offerings to:
Dr. J. Robert White, Exec. Dir., GBC
“This year the requests are much more than the funds we receive,” said Ricky Thrasher, consultant with GBC church and community ministries. “Our food pantries are receiving requests from people who have never had to ask for help before. The economy has created a stress for all of us as we try to meet these needs.”
That’s certainly true in Mulberry Association in Hoschton.
“At the beginning of this year we were helping 70 families a month. In October we helped 206 families,” said Mulberry associational missionary Tommy Fountain.
With churches doing more food drives, the ministry still has food to give, but Fountain has seen a change in the families being helped.
“Many of these families are working families. They’re middle class. I had one couple who both lost their jobs. They have enough money to keep up with their mortgage, but not to buy groceries.”
Fountain expects the need to increase and hopes to be able to meet that need.
“We just need more food,” he said.
The name of their food ministry says it all: Miracle Ministries.
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