Calvary Chapel food pantry expands debt-free
Before Calvary Chapel secured a new building for its food pantry, it was common to see people from nearly 300 households waiting in line outside the church to receive commodities.
The church located in Buffalo, Missouri, began its food pantry in 2011 with the expectation of serving 100 to 150 households at each monthly distribution. Within the first few months of operation, Calvary Chapel saw those numbers climb drastically.
In late 2013, the church began to explore the idea of adding on a new building to improve the flow of the pantry and expand its outreach ministries.
Mark Elliot, associate pastor and pantry board member, was born and raised in Buffalo. He came back to the ministry of the small-town church after graduating college, and was involved in the building process from start to finish.
“We started praying and thinking about how we could do things better,” Elliot shared. “Not only did we need room for the pantry, but we were also looking to expand our ministry as a church.”
Calvary Chapel set a goal to begin construction after it raised the needed funds for the new building.
The support of the congregation was apparent when the needed $200,000 was quickly collected — allowing construction to begin debt-free in summer 2014.
“I think the congregation realized that it was not just a building or a program, this is a philosophy we have as a church,” Elliot said. “That God put us here to meet both physical and spiritual needs of the community.”
Elliot shared that throughout the construction process clients were appreciative despite having to shuffle where they picked up the food every month.
Completed October 2014, the facility contains a storage room with dry shelving and two industrial freezers that were provided by an Ozarks Food Harvest equipment grant.
Thanks to the expansion, pantry clients now drive their cars through the line and volunteers load the clients’ cars with the commodities.
“The unexpected piece for us during our partnership with Ozarks Food Harvest has been the amount of community volunteers that come help us serve,” Elliot said.
Clients, area churches and other civic organizations in the Buffalo community volunteer at the pantry.
“The fellowship and the good spirit as we work together serving has been the neatest part of the process,” Elliot shared. “It continues to be a blessing as we continue the program.”