Asbury to start on-site food pantry

Published 4:53 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

NORTH SHELBY — Asbury United Methodist Church in North Shelby will soon open an on-site food pantry to meet the needs of hungry people across Shelby County.

April Clouser, coordinator of the Asbury Angels food ministry, said while the church is part of a ministry that delivers food to needy families on the last Saturday of every month, the church gets a lot of daily walk-in traffic from people looking for help.

“We found that during any given week we might have up to three people a day walk in and say they needed food,” Clouser said. “We saw there was an immediate need, and we couldn’t always wait until the last Saturday of the month.”

The food pantry, which will officially open June 13, will be available for those in need to visit on Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m. The food pantry is intended for Shelby County residents, so those wanting food must have proof of residence.

The pantry will give away items such as canned meats, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned soups, pasta and rice.

Asbury also serves as the Birmingham-area distribution site for One Harvest, a ministry that allows people to order food items at a discounted rate. Families can pick up their food boxes at the church, and other churches from locations such as Chelsea, Bluff Park and Forestdale also pick up food boxes to distribute.

The church serves about 60 families through its work as the distribution site, Clouser said.

Asbury also works with the nonprofit Grace Klein Community organization to deliver frozen food, canned goods and fresh fruit and vegetables to about 180 families throughout Jefferson and Shelby counties. Those deliveries usually happen on the last Saturday of every month, Clouser said.

“We have families who deliver to others so their children can learn to help others,” she said. “On any given Saturday, I would say we probably have 40-50 people.”

Clouser said the food ministry is just a pathway to helping others learn about Christ.

“It really has spun off to be more than just a food ministry,” she said. “When we go to deliver food, we ask if they have other needs.”

One food recipient said her 10-year-old grandson needed a positive male role model, and Asbury workers were able to find a volunteer to spend time with the boy, Clouser said.

“We’re able to meet these other needs because we’re feeding these people,” she said. “I think the food has always been a way to introduce ourselves to people. We want to spread the love of Jesus Christ, so it helps us get our feet in the door and start that conversation.”

Those interested in ordering discounted food boxes can visit or call Asbury at 995-1700. For any other information, call the church at 995-1700.