by Lisa Tome
Rev. Pat Drost has found an innovative way to get church members to volunteer to help at her church's monthly food distribution program.
She feeds them.
On Friday night, January 10 members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Perryville, joined together for a potluck meal. After they finished eating, they began bagging up items for Saturday morning's free food distribution.
Church member Tim Rovine and Rev. Drost co-chair the program which started last summer.
Rev. Drost explained that feeding people is something the church has always done, by way of a small food pantry. When she was named church leader, the program expanded and became more high profile. The Reverend made a connection with the Harford Community Action Agency. Now that group and the church work together to provide food for households in need. The project got its start when scouts from Boy Scout Troop 967 began gathering food in the Beacon Point community. In their first ever canvass, they collected food from 43 homes. Food Lion of Perryville contributed bags.
The first distribution which was held in June, six households were served. In December that number had grown to 37. "We give out over 50 bags of groceries," said Rev. Drost.
Items vary from month to month. Saturday's food included canned tuna, macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, peanut butter, snack crackers, candy, cookies, and more. Each family also got packets of frozen meat - their choice of chicken or venison.
June Reasin volunteered at the church on Saturday. It was her first time helping at the food distribution. "It's important to volunteer. There is not as much available in the western part of the county and there is a growing number of people who need it," said Reasin.
Families served on Saturday were from Perryville, Port Deposit, and Conowingo. Some also came from Elkton, Baltimore, Havre de Grace, and North East. Many of the families have five to seven people living in a home. Some are three generations living under one roof.
"Those are the ones who really need the help- grandparents who are raising grandkids. That's a strain on grandma and grandpa," said Rovine.
Rovine tracks those who pick up their food. In order to join the food distribution program, there are no financial guidelines.
Anyone who wants it is asked to fill out a one-page questionnaire including the number of those who live in the home. The day before pick-up, participants also receive a reminder phone call.
Homebound people are allowed to sign up. They can attend once and then give permission for a proxy to pick up. The program is held the first Saturday of each month.
Rev. Drost said she is enjoying the food distribution. "It makes you feel fabulous. Nothing makes you feel better than feeding people. This has given the church a new focus," she added.