“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:35-37,40
Feeding people is a core ministry at St. Thomas. Here are some of the ways we do that.
Red Door Community Kitchen
A few years ago it was decided to expand our feeding efforts beyond Sunday Suppers, initially offering a free lunch on two Wednesdays a month. It was very confusing for the participants—is this the right Wednesday or not? By expanding this ministry to every Wednesday attendance rose from about 14 a week to 50+. This initiative remains under the leadership of Helen Monroy at St. Thomas.
At various times Red Door has had assistance from businesses in the area including Country Kitchen for 6 months and now Pizza Hut but it is primarily homemade food. Most of the teams are made up of folks from St. Thomas but other teams are composed of folks from the Bath Presbyterian church, Steuben ARC, and the Bath Rotary.
In the cold weather, we also hand out donated coats, hats, gloves and, scarves.
St. Thomas has two teams that provide a hot dinner on Sundays on a rotation with other church teams. Each of the four mainline churches (Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Episcopal) hosts the suppers on a rotation basis for six months at a time. We will be hosting again from October 2018—March 2019. An average of 60+ people are fed at this ministry which has been going on for over 30 years. A parishioner at St. Thomas was on the planning team at its inception.
This feeding ministry was the brainchild of our rector; we believe we are the first, perhaps second, such garden in the diocese. Our community gardens now consist of 13 plots, mostly raised beds. Gardeners have raised around 1,000 pounds each year for the local food pantry. Various organizations/churches in Bath adopt a garden, and under the leadership of Ray Long, a parishioner of St. Thomas, they plant and harvest vegetables including cabbage, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, winter squash, summer squash, broccoli, lettuce, beets, cucumbers and, peas. Teams come from the Girl Scouts, St. Thomas, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Centenary United Methodist Church, Bath Rotary Club, Hammondsport Rotary Club, Bath Presbyterian Church, Masons, Steuben ARC, and Community Mental Health team.
Souper Bowl of Caring
On Super Bowl Sunday we participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring. A group from St. Thomas, under the leadership of Woody Latour, mobilizes young people to fight hunger and poverty. Parishioners vote for their favorite team by dropping money into a soup pot. They also provide a soup lunch and skit. In three years, this has produced over $1,000 in donations to local food pantries.
Food Bank Truck
The Food Bank of the Southern Tier uses our parking lot monthly. Over 150 people pick up groceries each month for themselves and their families. This program is supervised by Catholic Charities of Steuben and includes volunteers from St. Thomas.
Monthly Donations to Food Pantry
A couple from the Centenary United Methodist Church in Bath prepares an annual schedule for churches to donate specific items the Turning Point Food Pantry each month. A flyer details what food item is scheduled for collection and a goal is set by the local coordinator, Barbara Fowler at St. Thomas.
We collect canned meat, vegetables, fruit, pasta/sauce, peanut butter, cereals, toilet paper and personal hygiene items. In October and November, we collect one item for the Thanksgiving baskets which are distributed at the pantry. This year we collected 721 cans of vegetables. The church also donates money for the turkeys. In six months this year so far, we have collected almost 2,000 items.
Other Food Ministries
- Parishioners at St. Thomas also regularly participate in the STEPS Walk that benefits the Food Pantry at Catholic Charities. Each year, the St. Thomas Walk the Talk Team has raised as much as $3,400 and has been the number-one fundraising team three years in a row.
- During the course of a year, monies are funneled from the Rector’s Discretionary Fund into the Pastors’ Fund at Catholic Charities to the tune of around $2,000 a year. This fund is used when other funds are not accessible. Frequent use includes aid for rent, security deposits, utilities, and laundry.
- A small, but mighty ministry is the collection of bottles and cans—the deposit of which amounts to another $150 per year to the Food Pantry at Catholic Charities.
- The Diocese of Rochester gives a grant of $4,400 to St. Thomas toward additional support for the Food Pantry and related-ministries at Catholic Charities Steuben.