By Aaron Earls
Members of a Virginia church saw the impact hunger was having on their community, so they decided to do something unusual about it—open a grocery store.
The Vineyard church opened in January 2015 in Hampton, Virginia, and shortly thereafter began The Storehouse, a once-a-month discount food ministry for parishioners, according to WAVY television news.
“We saw that it was blessing our members and this was something we felt needed to be seen in the local community,” pastor Jacob Hopson told WAVY.
So last year, they opened The Storehouse to anyone in the area. Hopson says it is the “first and only nonprofit grocery store in Virginia.”
In 2017, they helped 10,000 families. They’re hoping to reach that same number in only six months this year, according to WAVY.
Currently, church funds and outside donations pay for the food, but Hopson hopes the store will be self-sufficient eventually.
That will mean helping more people—a vital goal in Hampton, where up to 26 percent of the population doesn’t know where the next meal will come from, according to the WAVY story.
But hunger is not limited to certain cities or areas. Feeding America reports 41.2 million people are struggling with hunger in the United States, including 12.9 million children.
Almost two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say child poverty is a critical issue to them, according to PRRI.
Churches are often on the front lines of dealing with poverty and poverty-related issues.
Twenty-two percent of American adults say their families have turned to church-run food pantries for help, according to LifeWay Research.
Instead of starting their own ministries, many churches partner with local food banks.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee says roughly half of its partner agencies who help distribute food are churches or faith-based organizations.
Other churches find different ways to address the issue of hunger in their communities.
Crossroads Community Baptist Church, a small, rural Kentucky congregation, opened a sit-down restaurant that offers free meals three days a week and serves more than a thousand dinners every Thanksgiving.
In New Mexico, The People Church and Mountain Valley Church partner to fill backpacks with food to send home with schoolchildren on Fridays so they will have something to eat during the weekend.
- Fighting Hunger in Your Neighborhood
- 7 World Hunger Stats You Need to Know
- 4 Practical Ways the Church Can Address Hunger
- Wealth, Poverty, and Human Flourishing: How Do We Really Help?
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.