Greenville church mobile pantry gives access to farm-fresh food

  • Volunteers Corryn McCobb, 11, of Milford, and Rebecca Barthelmess of New Ipswich pack boxes with dairy products, meat and produce at the Greenville New Covenant Bible Church Mobile Food Pantry on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Volunteers Corryn McCobb, 11, of Milford, and Rebecca Barthelmess of New Ipswich pack boxes with dairy products, meat and produce at the Greenville New Covenant Bible Church Mobile Food Pantry on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Volunteers Corryn McCobb, 11, of Milford, and Rebecca Barthelmess of New Ipswich pack boxes with dairy products, meat and produce at the Greenville New Covenant Bible Church Mobile Food Pantry on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/5/2021 3:26:51 PM

Outside of the New Covenant Bible Church in Greenville sits a truck, filled with milk, yogurt, sour cream, fresh vegetables and meat. Volunteers unload the boxes from the truck to resident’s cars. There are no forms to fill out. There are no questions asked.

The priority is to get out as many boxes to families in need as possible, said volunteer Tom Perkins.

Perkins, who has been attending the church’s online sermons from his home in Manchester, said he’s a regular volunteer for the organization Food for Children. The organization has been a recipient of the federal Farm to Families program, which works with farms to provide fresh produce, meat and dairy to families as part of Coronavirus relief. Perkins said there were extra boxes from the Manchester program each week, and he reached out to the church about starting a temporary food bank to help spread the reach of the program to the Greenville, New Ipswich, Temple and Mason area.

Since March, the Mobile Food Bank has set up shop each Tuesday outside of the church, with supplementary dry goods inside of the church for those who need them.

“Families have been hit hard. If this is the difference between a family being able to eat healthy food rather than processed junk, then we don’t want them to hesitate. It’s important that you get a balanced meal to stay healthy,” Perkins said.

The boxes the New Covenant Bible Church hand out have a lot of items that are difficult for food pantries to acquire, because they are perishable, and meat, which is the most expensive to acquire. The boxes handed out on Tuesday contained marinated chicken and beef hotdogs, along with probiotic yogurt, gallons of milk, cartons of sour cream, and onions, carrots and potatoes.

“Meat is what pantries struggle with the most. They’re the most expensive and on any given shopping trip, it takes up most of the bill. If we can help people with what they’re struggling with, we’ve done our service,” Perkins said.

The Mobile Food Bank isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, said Amanda Helmig, a woman and children’s ministry leader at the church. Greenville already has a permanent food pantry at the Sacred Heart Church, and the New Covenant Bible Church has been working with them to distribute some of the boxes during their regular scheduled hours. But, she said, every access point to fresh food might be needed after the most recent year.

“We’re there to minister to the needs of the community and this sort of fell into our lap as an opportunity to do that, and it’s grown from there,” Helmig said.

Helmig said the program has been distributing between 50 and 100 boxes of food per week, but said they have more available, and encouraged anyone in need to attend one of the Mobile Food Bank pickups, or request a box from the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry if they aren’t able to make it to the New Covenant Bible Church’s pick up hours.

Helmig said despite expectations from local pantries, demand for their services seem to have dropped in the past year, perhaps due to access from other sources.

“It’s a little baffling,” Helmig said. Families may be getting food from alternative sources which have cropped up in the last year due to the pandemic, or could be in a situation where they are food insecure for the first time and unsure about accessing assistance programs, Helmig said. But, she said, that is what these programs are there for.

Food for Children, the supporting entity, has been funded to distribute Farm to Family boxes through May. The New Covenant Mobile Food Pantry will be at the church every Tuesday through that point, from 2 to 4 p.m. If the funding is extended, so too will be the program. The New Covenant Bible Church NH Facebook page will announce each Mobile Food Pantry as they are scheduled.

Volunteers encourage anyone in need to attend.

“Even if you’re just on the edge, and this gives you $30 or $40 to put somewhere else, like rent, anybody in need, please come down,” Helmig said. “No questions asked. This is what it’s here for.”


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