Drive-through meals that heal
The driver pulled under the canopy in front of Triad Baptist Church, told volunteers how many people she needed to feed, and drove away a few minutes later with enough ready-to-heat dinners for them all.
It’s a scene that has repeated itself each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. since April 6 — the date Triad became one of 30 meal distribution sites in Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina’s special food outreach for Northwest Piedmont communities affected by COVID-19.
“As I was delivering packages one day for my job, I saw a sign up in a person’s yard that read, ‘We are the hands and feet of Christ’ and this has stuck with me,” said Alan Comer, the Triad Baptist Sunday School teacher who leads the project with Second Harvest.
“I really believe that God’s desire is for us to not only hear His Word but live out the Bible’s truths every day,” Comer said. “There is no act too small, nor too large that we can do in His name.”
The meals that Triad’s volunteers hand out come from Second Harvest’s Providence Community Meals program. Its students usually make hot meals under the guidance of seasoned chefs during their 13-week training but make cold tray-packed and ready-to-heat meals for ease of delivery, pickup, and use during COVID-19.
The food comes from donated and purchased products, and serves children, seniors, and adults with disabilities.
“Everyone has a stake in making sure that all children have the nutritious food they need to stay healthy, active, and ready to learn,” said Jenny Moore, Second Harvest’s director of communications and public relations.
“Our Providence Community Meals strives to reach children where they are and would not be possible without compassionate, engaged partners, including the Triad Baptist Church community.”
Moore said hundreds of breakfasts and suppers are being distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to people in need during COVID-19 because of Triad Baptist and other churches and community groups and their volunteers.
Even before the pandemic put millions of Americans out of work, Moore said the Federal Reserve found that four in 10 American adults did not have the savings or other resources to cover an unexpected $400 expense.
Because schools are closed, Moore said many families relying on free or subsidized school breakfasts and lunches to feed their families face an even greater need for food. Read Second Harvest’s fact sheet (PDF) to learn even more about hunger and food insecurity in Forsyth County.
Triad member Janet West created and manages the volunteer schedule for Comer that makes the food distribution possible. The volunteer corps features young and old alike — all wearing masks, gloves and minimizing interactions with food recipients and each other for safety.
Volunteers distributed about 100 meals each day the first week, and have served a steady flow of residents since.
Sonya Turner-Sledge and Jacob Owen volunteer every week.
“I have been in Kernersville most of my life and it is my home, and want to be able to help where I can in the community,” said Turner-Sledge, who has been attending the church for about 16 years and co-leads the First Line Ministries team greeting guests to Triad’s services.
“I have been overwhelmed by the fact that most parents are more concerned with their children having food than themselves, and that the recipients are so grateful for anything and everything,” Turner-Sledge said. “I have seen older folks and young adults with small children, and folks who appeared to be homeless living out of their cars.
“It is truly humbling, and it has made me even more aware of the people in our community who are hurting and need help. I pray that we continue to serve even after this pandemic has subsided, and we have returned to our normal routines.”
Owen has made his service a family activity — volunteering with his dad on Fridays and his sister one Wednesday. The family has been attending Triad for about eight years.
“Alan gave me a call and asked if I wanted to help out,” he said. “I think it’s important for the church to minister in this way because it’s a great opportunity to share God’s love and be a light to people who need one while in a time of crisis such as this. Everyone is so grateful when they receive their meals, and it’s a great feeling.
“Through this project, God has reminded me not to be envious of other people or want things other people have but to be content and thankful for what I have.”
Triad Baptist learned of the opportunity to serve with Second Harvest through Kim Gerber, a primary reading teacher at Kernersville Elementary School. Her friend, Lisa May, the school’s social worker, had shared how the food bank could distribute even more meals if it had more distribution sites in Kernersville.
Knowing the church was looking for opportunities to serve the community amid COVID-19 from her husband, Tim, Triad’s executive pastor for children and ministries, she mentioned the opportunity.
He in turn mentioned it to Comer after hearing his Sunday School class sought a way to serve the community during the pandemic. The new meal site at Triad gave Second Harvest an additional meal pickup location on the south side of Kernersville.
Comer said he was so glad to help that he said ‘yes’ before Gerber could even finish his pitch for a meal-distribution site leader.
“Anxiety levels are high, people are afraid for their health, their jobs, their finances, and so much more,” Comer said. “I cannot help but believe that if Jesus were here, in person, He would be the first volunteer to sign up! Galatians 6:10 says, ‘So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’
“I am excited to see how the Lord is going to use us to bless our community through this ministry.”