Local church gives food to 700+ each week
Volunteers at Harvest Fellowship Church give out fresh veggies, various meets and dairy products to more than 700 people every Thursday in the Jasper community during the COVID-19 pandemic. -SVT Photo
By Tami Stevenson
The art of giving has risen to new levels since the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi trucks packed with food hotel chains, restaurants and other industries can no longer use, are filling non-profit organizations like Bread of the Mighty Food Bank in Gainesville.
Jasper resident Johnny Peterson caught wind of the extra food being given out and introduced the idea to Harvest Fellowship Pastor Danny Henderson. With the help of Johnny Peterson and church member Charles Lee, Harvest began May 21 with a trailer, each Thursday, traveling to Gainesville to pick up the food and giving it away to the community the same day.
“It was something God literally put in our lap. We didn’t hoard this, we didn’t store it, we immediately got the word out into the community (and began giving it away) and it just continued to grow.” said Pastor Henderson.
They give not only fresh fruits and vegetables, but various meat products like bacon, ham, chicken and beef, along with milk, cheese and other dairy products. It’s different each time, and a true blessing to the community. It is a no strings attached labor of love. They give the food to anyone, not just the needy, that comes – until it is gone.
“Because God has made this food available, it’s available for everyone that comes. There are no criteria and no qualifications. If you pull through our parking lot we’re going to load you up,” added Henderson. They only ask two questions: How many families are you picking up for? They have limited it to four families or less per car. Question two: How many people does that represent? And that’s it. They do not ask for names or how much money you make. There are no qualifying criteria. The Bread of the Mighty asked them if they could keep a record of how many people they were distributing to on a weekly basis, for their records. So that is the only reason they record how many families and how many people each family represents.
“When God can trust you, He’ll lay things in your hand and in your lap,” Henderson commented.
When this began in May, they provided food for 428 people. Today, as they continue, they are averaging over 700 each week with two trailers full of food.
Henderson said the church would not be able to do this if it were not for the church volunteers.
“Harvest Fellowship has some of the most generous and unselfish people I’ve ever been a part of. The people that make up this church are a giving people. We could absolutely not pull this off without them. So all the credit goes to our volunteers and staff.”
Henderson has tweaked the process and now, with an average of around 10 people, they can have the food distributed within a couple of hours once it arrives.
A special thank you goes out to Harvest members Charles Lee and Tony DiMeo, along with the help of Albert Sylvester, who faithfully travel to Gainesville each Thursday to pick up the food.
Every week volunteers also take food deliveries to the local police department, the sheriff’s department, EMS and the fire department when they are there. They consider them essential businesses. They also take food for the postal workers in Jasper.
“What we do, we do for the glory of God. We do not promote our name during this. It is just something we do as an outstretched hand of Almighty God to our community.” The pastor added.
This past week members of the Hamilton Football Team were there to assist with the food distribution, along with High School Principal Donald Harrison and Assistant School Superintendent Philip Pinello.
How long do they intend to keep this up?
Pastor Henderson said they intend to continue the food distribution as long as it is available. “We don’t know how long it will continue or how long the food will be available, but as long as it’s available, we will continue to do it.”
Harvest Fellowship Church is located at 5544 U.S. Highway 129 in Jasper. Their phone number is 386-792-3833.
All Photos show volunteers helping to distribute food to more than 700 people each Thursday at Harvest Church in Jasper, Florida. -SVT Photos