Serving the Hungry During the Pandemic: Barrow Community UMC’s ‘Lil’ Food Pantry & Faith Fridge’


By Rebecca Wallace

It all started with one small, kind act of an anonymous donor who left groceries at the door of the church in May. The church member who found the bag of non-perishable and perishable foods didn’t know who left them or why because the church did not have a food pantry at the time. So Barrow Community UMC in the Central East District took this as a sign that they should find a way to feed people in their community.
Over the next month, a handful of staffers and members built a little food pantry and put it outside the church in front of the playground, and people in the community immediately began using it. The church has a rotation of volunteers who come each day and fill it up from a larger pantry inside that they pull from.
“What we heard from people who used the pantry is that meat is really hard to get,” explained Rev. Beth Dickinson, Barrow Community UMC’s pastor. “So at a meeting August, our worship leader showed us a picture of a community refrigerator in New York,” and that problem was solved.
The church already had an unused refrigerator in the basement that they then put outside next the pantry. Some of the men built a shed for the refrigerator, ran electricity to it, and now the “Lil’ Food Pantry & Faith Fridge” offers the community perishable food like meat, eggs, bread, milk, cheese and produce.
Both the pantry and refrigerator operate on an honor system. People take and give throughout the day. The church even puts children’s Bible lessons for the month in the pantry.
“What is cool is that people who have used the pantry and refrigerator are now giving back to the ministry as their circumstances change and in thanksgiving for what God has done for them,” Rev. Dickinson concluded. “We pray over the pantry and refrigerator regularly and God continues to provide food. It has been awesome to watch this ministry grow!”

Rebecca Wallace is a communications consultant (and United Methodist) in Atlanta.