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Church Spotlight: Feeding the Thousands

Kent Covenant Church

Kent, Washington
Weekly Attendance: 658
Established: 1967

By Marisa Carpenter

Shortly after the Stay Home Stay Healthy order was announced in Washington, my dad, the pastor of Kent Covenant Church, Keith Carpenter, came to me with the idea of putting together grocery bags that would be available for pickup for families who were in need of food. We put together about 20 grocery bags using food from the food pantry at Kent Covenant. The first day one person came to get food. The following week we had about 20, then 40, then 60, until we got to the point where five volunteers were putting together 80 bags of food every week.

We partnered with the administrative staff at a local middle school to identify families that were without transportation and in need of food, and we made groceries available to them for pickup. With the ministry growing so rapidly, we had to put out a call to the congregation to donate items to fill the bags.

They came through for us in a big way. We were getting so many donations we couldn’t fit them all in the food pantry so we put the overflow in the choir room. While filling the bags on Fridays, it was a common occurrence for us to realize that we were short a dozen loaves of bread or jars of peanut butter; and just as we were about to run to the store to buy more, a car would pull up to donate the exact amount of food we needed. It was undeniable that God was at work.

We developed partnerships with local organizations that donated fresh produce. Other churches with similar outreach programs brought us their leftover produce. The city was coming together and creating connections that hadn’t existed before to serve our community. Though the number of families coming for food continued to grow, we always had enough food to serve them.

One thing that had been weighing on us was how to get food to people without transportation; those who didn’t have access or ability to drive to our church and pick up groceries. Then we got a call from a community organizer working with the Pacific Coast Fruit Company. They had heard about the work we were doing and wanted to partner with us to distribute 25-pound boxes filled of fresh dairy and produce from the USDA Farmers to Families program every week. We agreed to take about 40 boxes, thinking that was how many we could manage to pass out; but they asked us if we could find a way to distribute 750 boxes. In the matter of a few short days we expanded our operations from one distribution location to five. In addition to passing out groceries at the church, we also distribute the fresh produce and dairy boxes at four apartment complexes in our community. Between the boxes and food pantry bags we have fed 500-600 families each week.

Every week more and more people are reaching out in need of food; and not once have we ever run out or had to turn someone away.

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