It all started 20 years ago around Thanksgiving. A small table in the lounge of the First Baptist Church of Moorestown was the location for its first food drive, collecting food for families in need. Over the last 20 years, that small table flourished into a pantry that helps over 200 individuals a week, including MEND (Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development) residents. The First Baptist Church was one of the nine founding churches of MEND. With over 50 years of rich history, MEND and the First Baptist Church’s Food Pantry partnered up this year to help MEND’s senior residents.
Moorestown resident and former MEND board member John Khanlian has deep roots within Moorestown, MEND and the First Baptist Church. He served on the MEND board for 12 years and has been a member of the Church for over 50 years. John recently stepped down from the board, but he knew his work helping MEND residents was not done.
“I’ve been a part of both organizations for a long time, and I fully support MEND’s mission of helping those in need of a ‘hand up.’ Helping individuals in the community is a satisfying way to spend retirement,” said Khanlian.
Every week, pantry volunteers and MEND’s Director of Corporate Administration Stephanie Blackwell, team up to bring food donations and other necessities to one of MEND’s six senior housing sites. Each week, different food pantry volunteers head out to local food retail stores and collect items such as bread, pastries, fresh produce, sandwiches and other perishable items to add to the donation stockpile. These donations are brought to the common areas of the MEND properties where residents have the chance to “shop” and pick up anything they might need.
“Partnering with the church’s pantry has been a huge help to the seniors in making ends meet,” said Blackwell. “The donations lessen the amount of money spent on food and can be put toward other necessary living expenses.”
Running the pantry is a community effort. Volunteers from the community and the church’s congregation come together to run the pantry. As for donations, they come from The First Baptist Congregation, other churches, local elementary school food drives, the Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, donations from community members and other organizations.
“The community’s passion in helping their neighbors is what MEND and the First Baptist Church is all about,” said Khanlian.
The pantry also offers personal items such as toiletries, pet food, diapers, female hygiene products and more.
“Members of the community are encouraged to ‘shop’ and get what they need,” he added.
The First Baptist pantry is located at 19 W Main St, Moorestown. The Pantry and donation drop-offs are open Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers are always welcome. Contact Norma Wright for volunteer opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Pantry please visit: https://www.fbcmoorestown.org/food-pantry.html.