After five years since it began operating, the Manchester Adventist Community Services (MACS) continues to grow the reach of its food pantry through partnerships and the work of its volunteers. Since COVID-19 hit in 2020, the pantry went from serving an average of 80 families a week to 300.
MACS is a food pantry ministry started by the Manchester, Ky, Church back in 2016. In its beginning, the pantry operated through the donations of church members and food drives conducted by its Pathfinder club. Eventually, organizers partnered with God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Ky, which helped the ministry serve more community members.
Since 2020, the pantry started distributing an average of 250 to 300 boxes of food per week, depending on the date of the month. This ends up being about 12,000 to 15,000 pounds of food.
“When COVID hit, we realized we couldn’t let all this people be in line,” said Dawn Wardecke, member at Manchester Church and volunteer at MACS. “So, we had [the people] stay in their cars and started bringing the boxes to them instead, kind of like a drive-thru.”
The items distributed include fresh produce, canned goods, rice and pastas.
In addition to the help received from God’s Pantry Food Bank, MACS has also received support from the North America Division, AdventHealth Manchester and anonymous donors. The Business and Professional Foundation (BPF), an organization by the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference that financially supports evangelistic outreach, also aided MACS by providing funds for a new storage facility.
At the beginning of each month, MACS volunteers personally hand out a copy of Signs of the Times magazine. Sometimes they also include copies of Steps to Christ or The Great Hope – an abridged version of the Great Controversy.
“So, there is not just a physical impact, but also a spiritual impact,” Manchester Church Pastor Tom Kyser said. “Sometimes we get the magazine late, so some of the people come and ask ‘Well, where is our magazine? I look forward to reading that every month.’”
According to Kyser, the food pantry has opened the way for Bible studies in the community as well as with some of the volunteers.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, organizers prepare special baskets with foods to match the season. Moreover, Manchester Church Pathfinder and Adventurers, led by Wardecke and her sister, visit Bridge Street, Ky, to distribute hot meals for the homeless people.
“It’s as much a blessing to me as it is it is to them,” Wardecke said. “They’re getting food and they’re getting a contact with our church. I just feel like this is an outreach that is needed in our community.”