JEMEZ VALLEY (BNM) – Offering a food box at a difficult time in a family’s life opened the door for a church family to share Jesus’ love.
Jemez Valley Baptist Church reached out to a family in their community that had experienced tragedy. A mother of four children was found dead; and, no father lived in the home. Now, the grandparents are raising the children, whose ages range from two-years old to 15-years-old.
Jemez Valley Baptist church provides food and grief guidance to the family. The oldest child attends the youth group and has opened up about her struggles with a chemical imbalance and the loss of her parents. A food box paved the way for the church to minister to the family.
The church distributes food when requested and by appointment. Many people in the community commute to work or work on weekends, making a single food distribution day difficult. Volunteers also deliver food to homes whose residents with transportation problems. Referrals come from schools and word-of-mouth. At times, church members take food to a nearby school and to send home with the kids. The church’s clothes closet provides coats, shoes and other clothing to needy kids, too.
In addition to grocery distribution upon request, the church provides meals for children and teenagers who come to Bible study on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Often, children do not have dinner before coming; for some, the church’s meal is a rare warm meal fixed by someone other than themselves.
The number of kids ranges from 10 to 40 each week. They receive a ride to church on one of two vans. The volunteers go one hour before Bible study to pick them up. Later, it takes an hour to deliver the kids back home.
A note written on a dry-erase board by one of child said, “Thank you for the delicious food you make every Wednesday for us to enjoy. All the kiddos enjoy your food, especially me and my sister. I’m always hungry when I come on Wednesday. Thank you.”
At holiday times, church members prepare Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes based on the school’s list of families in need. Typically, the church gives away 40-50 food boxes at each holiday. At Christmastime, families receive a few extra meals because Christmas break is longer for the children. Additionally, each household receives gifts for the children along with their food boxes.
From time to time, a church from the Navajo Nation will ask for food. In that case, Jemez Valley provides items such as flour, oil, beans, potatoes, canned meats and other canned foods and sometimes hygiene items. At the last request, 40 households received food.
A majority of funding for the church’s food ministry comes from the Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering hunger funds. Individuals also donate money, food and hygiene items directly to the church throughout the year. One local business owner donates money and food for the weekly Bible study meals.
The church purchases food every month, depending on food donations received. Most of the food is staples and frozen foods, which are stored in a large closet and two freezers at the church. Five volunteers keep the pantry stocked and running. Jemez Valley served approximately 400 meals during a recent quarter, and 224 individuals received groceries.
Jemez Valley Baptist Church is one of 20 food ministries funded by the gifts of New Mexico Baptists to the Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering.
Pull Quote from story: “Thank you for the delicious food you make every Wednesday for us to enjoy. All the kiddos enjoy your food, especially me and my sister. I’m always hungry when I come on Wednesday. Thank you.” Use a creative handwriting-style typeface.