Since January of 2003, a weekly food distribution has been operating at Riverside Tabernacle in Flint’s downtown. Under the direction of Steve Krefeld and Doug Spilker, more than five tons of groceries are picked up, unloaded, organized, and distributed by dozens of volunteers from churches across Genesee County each week, resulting in more than seven hundred households receiving a bag or box of food. A typical week’s groceries might include bread items, eggs, milk, produce, fruit, canned goods, meat, cereal, peanut butter, and snacks.
We strive to provide a quality distribution of quality food, while insuring courtesy and dignity to each client. As well, we are currently providing groceries for fifteen agencies in the Flint area. We also supply food pantries across Michigan, in places like Bad Axe, Beaverton and Oil City.
While the storehouse receives regular donations from organizations like Panera Bread in Grand Blanc, most of the food we distribute is purchased at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, in Flint. We pick up food there every Monday and Friday. Riverside has purchased a number of freezers and installed two walk-in coolers for food storage until the following Tuesday’s distribution. Volunteers spend a good portion of each Monday unloading trucks and organizing that week’s menu. Final preparation is done early Tuesday morning. Clients begin assembling outside the church before daylight, waiting for the doors to open at 8:15 am for registration to begin prior to the voluntary Tuesday Church service beginning at 9:00 am. Records are carefully maintained, so we know exactly who we have served each Tuesday. We provide the Food Bank with a monthly report, also insuring that only one bag/box is distributed per household each week. Everyone who presents a photo I.D. with a current address between 8:15 am and noon receives food. When all have been served, the “cupboards” are pretty bare – so we take a deep breath and start believing for God’s provision for the following week!
The Storehouse has attracted some measure of attention, from newspaper articles to news features. In April of 2007, Riverside was honored as “Church of the Week” on “The 700 Club” television program, and later that year received the “Beacon of Light” award presented by the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Its not our desire to gain recognition, but we do hope always to help inspire other congregations to believe they can make a difference in their communities, and to draw the attention of businesses and donors who have the resources and the willingness to help us in this valuable work.
It is a joy to know we are helping our neighbors have a better quality of life. The Storehouse provides hope for the hungry!