St. Jude’s Lord’s Pantry fills sacks, tummies
Dozens of cars lined the edge of St. Jude Parish’s parking lot Monday, May 18, as volunteers in the rectory basement hastily pushed grocery carts and filled paper sacks with groceries stacked along the walls.
As the line of cars lengthened, volunteers of The Lord’s Pantry placed the bulging sacks on a long plank, hoisted them from the basement to the base of a garage door, and then carried the sacks to tables set up next to the driveway that passes between the rectory and the Wichita church.
As they transferred sacks from the basement to the driveway, other volunteers unloaded a box truck filled with cardboard boxes of food from the Kansas Food Bank located in downtown Wichita.
It was frenetic for about two hours. Just another Monday at the pantry that has been operating for over 30 years.
Sharon Meckenstock directs the ministry that distributes food to anyone in need from 9 to 10 a.m. every Monday, except for national holidays.
Kansas Food Bank supplies food
“About 95 percent of our food comes from the Kansas Food Bank,” she said. “And then we also receive food from our parishioners. We have a great relationship with St. Catherine of Sienna – their parish supports us fully.”
St. Jude Parish is located in northcentral Wichita. St. Catherine of Sienna is the parish immediately west of St. Jude.
Like other food ministries, The Lord’s Pantry relies on volunteers in addition to donations, Meckenstock said, adding that her volunteers haven’t had as much to do in the past couple of months.
Pandemic has affected numbers
The shelter-in-place directives may have affected the numbers served by the ministry, she said. The pantry has recently been serving about 120 people a week, down from the usual 175 per week.
“I think the coronavirus has had some effect on people’s willingness to get out,” she said. “We want them to know that we load their cars and they have not direct contact with any of our volunteers. So, it’s perfectly safe.”
Meckenstock has worked for the ministry for 10 years and directed it for the last five.
“I thoroughly enjoy being able to help people,” she said. “I miss … not having a one-on-one relationship with the people because of them having to receive food in their cars. Before, we were able to walk in a line and greet and talk to people. I miss that.”