​Morton Memorial Benefits from the Hunger Walk

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Reverend Jodi McCullah is just beginning her second year with Morton Memorial United Methodist Church, but despite the security she now feels on the Mountain, she said it wasn’t long ago that she needed help.

“For a lot of people, it’s easy to see yourself in a person that needs help and easy to recognize the potential for being there yourself. Most of us know we’re not that far from being in that position, and I hope to God if I need it, there’s someone who could help me. I’m not there right now, but I’ve been there. I’ve used food stamps, and it was very difficult to admit that I was working but still needed help,” she said. “There was a lot of shame involved in that, but there doesn’t have to be.”

McCullah came to MMUMC last year when the food pantry was in full swing. Morton Memorial United Methodist Church is one of the benefactors of the fifth annual The Hunger Walk, a fundraiser that supports local food assistance programs. Last month, the food pantry served 178 families.

“Almost everybody that comes in here is a working person, they just don’t make a living wage,” she said. “It’s rare that we don’t have at least 20 new folks a month. Each month, some folks fall away and new ones come, and especially for the new ones and really young ones, it’s very upsetting the first time or two because you don’t like the idea that you need help.”

But McCullah said the community aspect of visiting with neighbors and catching up with others at the church provides a crucial aspect that normalizes the process and removes the shame that can be associated with needing food assistance.

“People from the church seem to have a way of making people feel welcome,” she said. “They sit in our sanctuary for a couple of hours, and for a lot of them, it’s a social time. They catch up with us or with each other, or one or two of them may know about something others need to know about or they may be in similar situations. It’s a good chance to get together to talk about life, what they’re needing and where they are finding other resources as well.”

In years past, the Hunger Walk has raised upwards of $20,000. For the folks who come to visit with friends and shop MMUMC’s food pantry each month, that money can go a long way.

“Last month, we had a woman who said if it wasn’t for us, she wouldn’t have been able to afford to get new glasses. She was having to make a choice, but because she was able to come get groceries, she could spend the money to get her new glasses so she could see to drive,” she said. “We’re all in this together — someone may need help this month and not the next month, or maybe they need help for a long while. It’s here. We’re here.”

For more information about the food pantry, call (931) 924-2192, and to get involved with the fifth annual Hunger Walk, which is scheduled for September 28, visit http://www.thehungerwalk.com/