Agency Spotlight: Lutheran Church of the Master

This month we’d like to highlight the work of Lutheran Church of the Master in Phoenix, Arizona who began partnering with St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in April 2013.

The food program at Lutheran Church of the Master is run entirely by volunteers who distribute food on the 3rd Friday of every month.  They have a sign up sheet at our church each month for members to sign up to volunteer and also partner with Life In Christ Lutheran Church, located around 75th Ave and Thunderbird, in recruiting volunteers.

Altogether they have about 20-25 individuals helping make the food program possible each month. The average age of each volunteer? 68 years young. Each month they look forward to volunteering and serve the community with lots of joy. Many of the volunteers arrive as early as 6:15am to start setting up the tables and bagging produce.

Lutheran Church of the Master also has a wonderful partnership with their local Safeway at 7th St. and Thunderbird. One volunteer will go to the store and borrow shopping carts for pantry clients to use and then returns them after the distribution. It is a wonderful way to involve volunteers so everyone feels a part of the process. This particular volunteer has health issues but insists on having these carts for the people in need. This makes it easier for clients to take and transport the food to their vehicles. The church has men and women in the parking lot to assist and get the carts back for the next shoppers in line. Overall, it is wonderful to see all the volunteers coming together to help out the community.

The church has a very efficient system of having the clients sign in and get in line. They have produce and other food items laid out nicely on the tables and have volunteers at each to let them know what is in the pre-bagged packages and how many of each item they can take. Next are the bread/pastry volunteers, which “are incredible”. These volunteers have all the breads/buns breakfast items all neatly displayed by product type and clearly tell the clients how many of each they can take. This all makes the line run smoothly and efficiently.

The church runs a collection of plastic grocery bags so they have bags that are easy to open and fill with produce each month. More volunteers will come prior to the distribution to lay out the bags in boxes to make them easy to store and access each month for the distribution.

They also offer free blood pressure checks each month- courtesy of two nurses who also volunteer with the food pantry. These nurses have also referred clients who needed medical help.

Overall, the volunteers find the joy in hosting a food distribution and the clients really enjoy the setup and how every volunteer makes them feel welcome. We are so happy to have wonderful partners, like Lutheran Church of the Master, all across Arizona. Thank you for all of the work that you and your volunteers do help serve the food-insecure in our state.

Is your partner agency going above and beyond and would like to be featured in an upcoming newsletter? Nominate your organization at:

September Agency of the Month: Pure Heart Church

This month we would like to spotlight the Pure Heart Church and Food Distribution in Glendale, Arizona. The Food Ministry at Pure Heart Church has been in existent for as long as can be remembered because its membership always had a mentality which supported others. Pure Heart was selected as our Agency of the Month because they are constantly growing and adapting to better serve their community.

Recently, Pure Heart changed their distribution hours to include a Thursday evening distribution. While it was a risk at the beginning, recently they have seen an increase of clients at their evening distribution. These are clients who mostly work during the day and their only opportunity to receive assistance was during their new evening hours.  Another area of growth has been with the Grocery Rescue Program, which is now picking up from 7 stores, which are a mixture of grocery stores and convenience stores, around the valley. Through the Grocery Rescue Program, Pure Heart is able to receive meat, deli, produce, bread, non-food items, and more. What’s their recipe of success? Their director, Rosanne Minor, really attributes the success of the Grocery Rescue Program to the drivers and volunteers picking up the food. By having friendly people who pick up at the stores, they are able to build stronger relationships with the store managers. In return, the managers know what the most needed items for the pantry are and will keep a lookout for when they are able to donate these much needed items.

Additionally, Pure Heart not only supports the community through a food pantry, but through additional community resources. They provide a Job Board that shows job openings around the valley, computers where clients can work on resumes and apply for job, resume workshops, a clothing bank, and more. Additionally, as part of their Resource Center, Pure Heart will be hosting a SMFBA SNAP Coordinator to assist their clients in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Overall, Pure Heart accounts for their success and their passion because it comes down to “people helping people”. For the next year, they are excited to have their food distribution and resource center work together and collaborate more to better serve their community.

We would like to thank Pure Heart Church for their partnership with St. Mary’s Food Bank and look forward to continue serving the area with these valuable resources.

Is your organization doing something unique? Tell us about the work at your program and you might be featured in the next newsletter!