Feeding the Need
More than 100 residents walked away Thursday with fresh produce, dairy, bread and other food items thanks to a collaborative community effort, which takes place monthly.
On the first Thursday of each month, residents are invited to a community food pantry stocked by Farm Share and supported by downtown Palatka churches and other organizations. The food pantry is 9 a.m. until food is gone at First Baptist Church parking lot, 501 Oak St. in Palatka.
“It started many years before I got here to help the needy in the community,” said Nancy Tatum, pastoral administrator at St. Monica. “It is all about taking care of one another and serving one another.”
Volunteers from St. Monica Catholic Church, Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. James United Methodist Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church drive the monthly effort to feed residents in need.
“This food pantry is interdenominational. All parishes are working together on this,” said Father Ron Camarda of St. Monica.
Other groups such as the Putnam County Homeless Coalition and members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office also chip in to support the program. Homeless coalition member Leah Ramsey said the group canceled its scheduled meeting Thursday to volunteer at the pantry because she knows what the power of collaboration can do.
“Those of us that work in social services here in the county … we realize that we don’t have as many resources as other counties,” Ramsey said. “In order to make things work and really service the people we are helping, we have to work together.”
From the time the pantry began distributing food Thursday to when it closed for the month, volunteers and residents shared smiles, hugs and compassion for one another.
“This is what helps supports my family and I. We are beyond grateful,” said Paul Lee of San Mateo. “It is an important thing for people to know about.”
Tatum said food pantries are St. Monica’s largest and most active ministry. Residents throughout the city are given the resources they need each month thanks to the programs and collaborative efforts between the community and Farm Share, she said.
“Farm Share is a great organization,” Tatum said. “Without them, we could not do this.”
For more information or to volunteer with the food pantry program, call St. Monica at 325-9777.