Religion feature: Church provides food for hungry

The 16th and Pile Church of Christ has been providing food for the needy Mondays and Fridays for six months.

Church Elder Don McCasland said the Helping Hands food pantry is aimed at helping people without jobs. The number of unemployed in Curry County is 5 percent, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

"If people need to use their food money to pay rent or an electricity bill and need a little bit of food, they can come see us," McCasland said.

Food recipients are greeted by a Church of Christ member at the order table in the church's entrance where an information sheet is completed. Information sheets are only used for recordkeeping purposes and require no personal information.

Church members then retrieve a box of non-perishable food items that fits the individual or group's needs. This box may include food items such as beans, spaghetti, crackers, tuna, canned vegetables and canned meats. McCasland said the church also provides $20 Goodwill gift certificates to recipients to shop for clothes.

Church of Christ Minister Garrett Bookout said food is something that everyone needs,

"Some people come and say 'I need gas,'" Bookout said. "You can live without gas in your car, you can walk, but you can't live without food."

Helping Hands food items are donated by church members. Bookout said the church announces food pantry requirements before giveaways so church members may shop accordingly.

Church of Christ member Curtis Anthony said when people collect food boxes they are encouraged by church members to attend church service and visit with them to see how recipients can be helped spiritually.

"It would be the best thing in the world if we didn't need the food pantry anymore," Anthony said.

Fast facts

What: Helping Hands food pantry

Where: Church of Christ, 1521 Pile St.

When: 10 a.m. to noon Monday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday

Cost: Free

Contact: 769-2331

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