On the third Thursday of every month, you will find a group of individuals at Cornerstone United Methodist Church bagging rice and beans. What started as a small way to help during the pandemic now impacts lives from start to finish.

Routines were completely flipped upside down over a year ago as we all faced COVID-19 and began learning how to adapt to a new normal of virtual gatherings, meetings, and practicing social distancing everywhere we went. Yet, many people wanted to help and find creative and safe ways to do so through all this.

Knowing food insecurity and hunger were an immediate need in our community, a group of individuals decided to do something about it safely! What started as a small group of 4 individuals purchasing rice, beans, and bagging themselves has turned into a Church Outreach initiative.

Meeting on the third Thursday of every month wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and observing all COVID precautions inside a large conference room at Cornerstone United Methodist Church, this group has found a way to gather and help the community safely. For Sally Smith, “Just to get together with others, wearing a mask and sitting 6 feet apart and knowing what we are doing is helping others is enough”.  Since June, the group has doubled in size, and together, they have bagged nearly 2,000 pounds of rice and beans into 1,536- quart-sized bags. Pat and Deb, weekly Food Pantry volunteers, have found it special to hand out the rice and beans that their group has bagged at the Food Pantry on Fridays, being a part of the loop from start to end.

While clients of the Grace Place Food Pantry benefit, those in the group are also reaping benefits simply by spending time together and knowing what they are doing is helping others.  For Pat Hart, a Grace Place Food Pantry volunteer, it is a small way for her to help out in a difficult time and stay connected to Grace Place. In the words of H. Jackson Brown Jr. “The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more,” and this is true for those helping in this initiative.