Wayne County churches inspired to open food pantries

Wayne County churches inspired to open food pantries
Laurie Sidle

Deb Lilley from the Shreve Presbyterian Church restocks the Community Food Pantry, which recently opened under the overhang of the building occupied by M&M Roofing, 140 S. Market St., Shreve. The outreach is a project of Shreve Presbyterian, Shreve United Methodist and Shreve Christian churches.


Lisa Gress often wakes up with an inspirational song playing in her head. When she recently found it hard to sleep, her mind turned to missions.

“I said, ‘OK, God, what is it I’m supposed to be doing during the pandemic?’ And the idea of a food pantry popped in my head,” said Gress, a member of the Shreve United Methodist Church missions committee.

Gress felt she’d been given a job to do, so the next day she made a few calls, received some donations and gained approval from the church’s missions committee, and in two days the Shreve Community Pantry was operating outside M&M Miller Roofing, 140 S. Market St., Shreve. It is a joint project of Shreve UMC, Shreve Presbyterian and Shreve Christian churches.

Just down the road, the Fredericksburg Church of Christ also has found a way to provide for those who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic quarantine. The church at 131 E. Clay St. offers a Porch Blessing, where people can take food items or leave food items, said Gary Sands, who along with his wife, Dawna, started the outreach. The couple are members of the church and stocked the porch pantry with food using a monetary gift donated back to the church by a guest speaker.

Gary Sands said the idea for the name was his wife’s.

“People are donating more than they’re taking,” Gary Sands said. “By donating, they feel like they are helping the community and giving back to the community, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Shreve Presbyterian member Deb Lilley said she has been wanting to set up a pantry in the village for a long time, so she quickly got on board, volunteering to oversee the inventory. She’s a fan of the blessing boxes, the charitable dispensaries that are similar to the Little Free Libraries, but instead of offering books, they contain food, soap, diapers and other necessities.

Now that the Shreve Community Pantry has been established, Lilley said, “I’m the designated checker/filler.”

Cleaning supplies and hygiene items such as deodorant and shampoo disappeared quickly. “Diapers are also a hot commodity,” Gress said.

Donations are stored in donated furniture, an entertainment center and cupboard. Additional shelving that doubled the pantry’s capacity was supplied in a matter of hours by Dave Emler from Shreve UMC.

The Shreve and Fredericksburg churches hope to continue the pantries once the worst of the pandemic has passed and the quarantine is lifted.

Gary Sands said the Church of Christ could possibly use a shed it owns to expand the pantry, if the need exists.

The Shreve Community Pantry is limited to 30 days at its current location. After that, Gress said, “We are hoping to continue.”

The churches will re-examine the needs and see where a new location would best serve the village.

“It’s been fun,” Gress said. “People are driving by and dropping off things.”

Monetary donations to the Shreve Community Pantry are being handled by Shreve UMC and can be mailed to the church at 430 N. Main St., Shreve. Checks should be made payable to the church with “community pantry” written in the memo.

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