Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 27 Morrison said. One such solution is a ministry called "Caring and Sharing," where boxes filled with food are put together by the church and then dropped off at the police station, where those applying for the free food pick the boxes up. When the Rev. Tim Harmon first brought up the need for a mobile food pantry to his church leaders, the conversation went nowhere. First Presbyterian, located in Lake Park, Iowa, population 1,105, has a growing 65 and older population and fewer employment opportunities for younger people, Harmon says. "Many of the issues facing rural communities like ours are getting worse, like hunger," he said. But need, from wrapping paper and toilet tissue to clothing and food. Everything, that is, except healthy food. "The limited selection of food at the Dollar store does not allow for a balanced diet," said the Rev. Lisa Zahalka. However, Zahalka, pastor of Big Spring Bloomfield Presbyterian Trinity Baptist Church in Bloomfield, Kentucky (yes, Presbyterians and Baptists under one roof), says Dollar General does fill a need, especially among the older population who "don't always have the energy to drive to town or hike around a superstore." About six years ago, the town of Bloomfield lost its grocery store. While the mayor tried to get another grocery chain to come in, the response was that Bloomfield, with a population of 1,064, was too small to support it, Zahalka says. A year ago, though, a small produce store set up shop. "We were so excited, but it was not to be what we expected. On the days that I have visited, the produce is usually going bad. I am sure the store will be gone soon," Zahalka said. Big Spring Bloomfield is explor- ing starting a food pantry, but in the meantime, the best way to help feed neighbors is by pulling together, recognizing the needs as they arise and doing what can be done. "When word gets around that someone is in need, it's not uncommon for folks just to cook and deliver casseroles," Zahalka said. Food trucks roll in When free church dinners and the occasional casserole aren't enough to meet the hunger needs, it's time for the food trucks to start rolling. In 2016, First Wyoming United Presbyterian Church was instru- mental in bringing to its community a food truck brimming with canned and dry goods from the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies. The food truck, Morrison says, became a "huge community effort," with volunteers coming not just from the Presbyterian church but from other churches to help unload the truck, set up and greet people as they "shopped." Unfortunately, in May, the last food truck delivery was made. The food bank, located in Casper, Wyoming, wanted the community to offer a more perma- nent solution, such as a food pantry, Morrison says. "Another organization has stepped up to explore the best spot for a permanent food pantry and we will continue to find ways to walk alongside those who are hungry," COURTESY OF LISA ZAHALKA Rural towns like Bloomfield, Kentucky, might look idyllic, but beneath the surface is the "darkness of hunger," says the Rev. Lisa Zahalka.

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