​Food Ministry at MMUMC

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

In 2006, Sandy Cantrell had a stroke. After a few years of being unable to work, she found herself struggling to put food on the table. A friend told her of a local ministry that provided food assistance to those with food insecurity, and that is when she first visited Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC).
Three years later, she is meeting with people once a month, helping distribute meals to those who come for food assistance. Cantrell said the best part about the ministry is that it helps get her out of the house and allows her to meet people.
“My mind doesn’t comprehend too much anymore, and I developed Parkinson’s disease. But the food ministry helps people who can’t afford to go buy groceries. I liked it so much I ended up staying to help. It’s a good program, and I would recommend it,” said Cantrell.
The Rev. Amanda Diamond of MMUMC said that is just the kind of impression she hopes the food ministry will have on those it assists—what she calls the church’s Saturday family.
“One of the things we really believe in is sitting with our Saturday family. We have people in our congregation who just come to sit and listen. We don’t always do a great job, but we try to make everybody that comes in our door feel like they’re a part of us. We know their stories. We know when they’re struggling to put mortgages together or when their lights might get turned off or when they may need an extra set of diapers for the kids,” said Diamond. “We are that place where you can come—we can’t fill your pantry but we can provide you with a few meals of sustainable food.”
Diamond said Cantrell has been involved with the ministry since the beginning.
“The very first time we asked for volunteers to help us, she quickly and readily stepped forward and was willing to assist us in whatever form we needed. After a few months of assisting us with the registration process we asked her to be part of our monthly team meetings, and once again, she stepped forward willing to help. She attends our monthly team meetings and comes early on the second Saturday of every month in order to begin the process of saying hello and handing out the numbers we use in the registration process. Then she moves to the check-in and registration table ensuring that both our recipients and the Food Ministry has all that it needs from each person,” said Diamond.
According to Laura Kilpatrick, Director of Agency and Government Relations for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, helping communities with food insecurity is just one part of their goal. MMUMC gets supplementary provisions from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank each month.
“Food is the bridge to great things. It’s a part of our culture, and our goal as an organization is to build these relationships with other entities that provide other social services that can address all the needs of the home to help build them out of poverty,” said Kilpatrick. “What are some other things we can help with? How do we connect to these families that have children? What other services can we provide? We’re trying to use food as the vehicle to get people to congregate and bring in other services to work on long-term sustainability with families.”
Cantrell said anyone in need of help shouldn’t feel ashamed to come to Morton.
“You don’t have to give anything. If you need help, you don’t have to be shy about it. Just come in and get what you need,” she said.
The next food ministry at Morton is Saturday, Sept. 9, beginning around 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are also encouraged to come help unload food shipments on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 12:30 p.m.