Maya and Eddy James provide an overview of a new St Thomas’ community project offering help to those in need during the coronavirus crisis
It’s often said that we are all in the same boat when it comes to the coronavirus crisis. But that isn’t really true. While we are all weathering the same storm, we are in a number of different boats.
Some of our vessels are large, luxurious and relatively safe. Things may be tough for us but we’re unlikely to slip beneath the waves. Other vessels are small and barely seaworthy. They are being battered by the storm, their occupants clinging on for dear life. It is these people that we have been called to help during these difficult times, throwing them a life line and offering them sanctuary in our haven of hope while we wait for the seas to become calm once more.
Grove’s Groceries was established in the early weeks of lockdown with the aim of providing food parcels to those in our local community most in need. Working with Haxby Road and Park Grove Primary Schools, both of which are in our parish, we have identified twenty families in extreme need. Many rely on free school meals to ensure their children are well fed and
are struggling while schools are closed. Others have seen a sudden drop in their incomes as parents find themselves out of work or have seen outgoings rise significantly as members of their wider family have moved in with them.
Each of these families receives a large food parcel from us once every two weeks. They also receive a children’s activity pack and a simple recipe that they can use to cook a wholesome meal using some of the ingredients provided.
We also provide smaller weekly food bags to many others in our local community including elderly and other isolated members of our church family who might otherwise feel forgotten in a world where so much social interaction suddenly takes places online. We’ve even been able to send people beautiful bunches of flowers that would otherwise been thrown away as they were past their sell by date!
Some of you may remember that we ran Luke’s Larder in the church hall last summer, taking surplus food from supermarkets and sharing it with members of our community on a pay as you feel basis. It was this project – and particularly the relationships that we built with St Luke’s church and yourcafe during that time – that was the springboard for launching Grove’s Groceries. We are very grateful for their ongoing support and that of everyone who has donated time, energy, money and food to help us along the way. We are also endlessly amazed at God’s perfect timing and provision as doors and opportunities have opened up to us week by week in answer to prayer.
Seven weeks in and we have made around 250 deliveries, providing over 350 bags of groceries along the way. Here are just a few of the testimonies we have received so far:
- Five amazing food boxes arrived today and our families are extremely grateful – Haxby Road School
- Thanks again for yesterday’s boxes of food. We had five very appreciative families who received them with big smiles on their faces! One mum with a year one child and a six month old baby said she had recently applied for free school meals but she won’t know for a good few weeks whether she will qualify for it so the amazing box of food certainly takes the anxiety away for a while – Park Grove School
- I recently spoke to an 89 year old lady who I’m befriending and she said Wednesday is the highlight of her week because she has a food parcel from Grove’s Groceries. Receiving the food parcel feels exciting to her, like getting gifts, and she looks forward to seeing a friendly face and hearing a friendly voice, even if it is at a distance. She said she feels loved by the church – befriender
- Thanks so much for the Grove’s Groceries food. It is always so amazing and just what we need. And treats too that we don’t normally have. It’s a bit like Christmas, opening the bag of lovely surprises – a member of our church family
- I could not believe what was in the delivery. Thank you so much! I felt loved – a member of our church family
- I’ve decided I’m going to have prawn curry for tea tonight! You’ve brought me things that I wouldn’t even buy for myself when I had money – a member of one of our church groups
Initially much of the food we distributed was short-dated or recently out of date food donated directly by supermarkets. This was supplemented with basics such as pasta, rice and canned goods either donated directly or purchased using funds kindly provided by church members. In recent weeks we have, however, linked up with FareShare a national charity that takes surplus food from right across the food industry and distributes it to front-line charity and community groups. Through them we are now receiving lots more great quality, in-date food. This means we now have more food available, so we are looking at new ways to help more people in our local community. Watch this space for more news but please let us know if you can think of any other groups of people we could help.
Photos kindly provided by Joy Photography.