Episcopal food ministries respond to economic fallout of COVID-19 in Atlanta

Posted Apr 3, 2020

[Diocese of Atlanta] Food ministries of the Diocese of Atlanta are seeing a spike in requests from people who have been laid off or have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a look at how three food ministries are adapting and innovating:

In Atlanta, there’s Emmaus House, a ministry of the Diocese of Atlanta to residents in impoverished Atlanta communities south of the former Turner Field. Greg Cole, executive director, said he has increased food purchases.

“We’ve increased our deliveries from the Atlanta Community Food Bank from 3,000 pounds to 4,000 pounds,” Cole said. “Now more than ever, our neighbors need support as many are without work or have reduced hours. And as the timeline for defeating the novel virus keeps being extended, the need and costs will surely increase. We are grateful to those who ensure that we can continue offering this important service.”

In Cartersville, The Red Door Food Pantry at Episcopal Church of the Ascension has expanded its monthly hot meal program with help from other churches and nonprofits and is now serving nearly 1,000 meals a day seven days a week. Jeff Tindall, managing director, said he never expected the need would be so great when beginning the daily drive through meal offering on March 17.

“What we thought might be a couple of hundred [meals] a day has just exploded,” Tindall said. “Without the partnership of First Presbyterian, Will to Way Foundation, BLESS Coalition and many others we could not have done this.”

At Malachi’s Storehouse, a food ministry of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, Judi Carlson, program director, said the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak was shocking.

“It has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of guests who have visited our weekly food pantry over the past three Wednesdays,” Carlson said. “It has also required major changes to the program. The tradition at Malachi’s Storehouse was to greet and visit with patrons in the church sanctuary, feed them a hot meal and then allow guests to ‘shop’ for food in a grocery store setting.”

“That welcoming experience has fallen victim to the new virus,” she continued. “Malachi’s Storehouse has moved its operation outdoors. Unfortunately, this means that we have had to eliminate the hot, sit-down lunch we are accustomed to providing. We currently serve guests who have cars in a drive-thru style; those who arrive on foot or via public transportation are able to walk up to receive groceries.”

Volunteers must keep their distance.

“We are practicing social distancing and following recommended safety precautions to ensure that we can continue to safely provide our community with much-needed groceries in these difficult times,” Carlson said.

For all of its dislocation, COVID-19 has brought about a new partnership.

“We have partnered with the City of Dunwoody, who has conducted food collections so we could provide over 2,000 lunches for school children.”

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