ENGLEWOOD — The original food pantry at St. David’s Episcopal Church is in a small room in the building adjacent to the church.
With the church’s expansion into a space formerly used as a day school, the food pantry now has room to grow to serve an expanding base of needy people — many of them elderly.
The new pantry will be ready when the church’s new Jubilee Center opens in October.
‘The number coming in seeking help has increased because of the price of food going up drastically in the market,’ said Pat Knox, outreach minister for St. David’s. ‘We have been blessed by the community because our pantry is kept full by donations. We do have a number of food drives during the year. There have been some companies that said they’ll put some boxes out to help us collect food, which is really good.’
The people who use the St. David’s food pantry are predominantly the elderly who are on social security.
‘Their checks just don’t meet all of their financial needs,’ Knox said. ‘That’s the problem. Everything’s gone up, but social security hasn’t. Last week, we had five weeks in the month. Even if you’re getting disability or unemployment that’s this week, it’s run out. So we tend to get more people when that happens too.’
The church’s new Jubilee Center was designated by the diocese.
‘A jubilee center is one that takes a leadership role in doing outreach in the community,’ said Rev. Eric S. Cooter. ‘It can also be a resource for other churches to ask how they start programs similar to ours.’
Cooter said he is open to the idea of expanding the pantry to a potential soup kitchen.
‘We formed a Jubilee Center committee and that task is to provide leadership,’ Cooter said. ‘Say we find there’s a need that emerges in the community that (Englewood) Helping Hand or someone else is not servicing. Then we’ll discern, briefly, ‘Is this really what God is calling us to do?’ Maybe we’ll look at it as a ministry. We’re open to anything.’
The church also provides pastries donated from Publix on Jacaranda Boulevard in Venice for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and those who come and sign up at the food pantry.
‘We share (our donated baked goods) with at least four other churches and a day school,’ Knox said. ‘We send some to Meals on Wheels. It depends on how much comes in, because you don’t want to throw any of it away. Not when there are people going hungry.’
Cooter said resources are always a concern, but there will always be people in need.
‘Jesus even said, ‘The poor you will always have with you,” Cooter said. ‘That is the reality of the human condition. You always have people who are suffering. It’s not just about feeding. It’s about human dignity.’
The St. David’s food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday nights.
St. David’s is located at 401 South Broadway, Englewood. Call 941-473-7807.