Jacksonville, Fla. (March 18, 2015) – Christian Fellowship Ministries is one of 13 food pantries in Northeast Florida that is now putting more food on the tables of people who need it thanks to a grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation provided to Feeding Northeast Florida, an affiliate of Feeding America.
In celebration of BJ’s Wholesale Club’s 30th anniversary, its foundation provided 30 grants of $21,000 to food banks to help them build the capacity related to the acquisition, storage, and distribution of food for the hungry.
In Jacksonville, Feeding Northeast Florida is using the grants to help small food pantries like Christian Fellowship Ministries add coolers and freezers so they can accept, store and distribute more nourishing produce, dairy and meat products in addition to canned foods and other items.
“Before the installation, Christian Fellowship was providing just under 550 pounds of fresh and frozen products to people over a four-month period,” said Feeding Northeast Florida President and CEO Bruce Ganger. “Now, with a new commercial grade cooler and freezer on hand, Pastor Ola Williams and her team are now providing nearly 8,000 pounds within the same amount of time, quadrupling their distribution capacity.”
Christian Fellowship Ministries food pantry, which is managed by Pastor Ola and an all-woman team of volunteers, serves more than 350 families in need twice each month. The pastor says the new capacity to provide food “is more than a blessing…it’s more like a miracle.
“This equipment allows us to be a real lifesaver to these families,” she said. “We are a small team and we work hard, but it’s always been a struggle every month to get what we needed for the children and the older folks at home who have a hard time getting here. With BJ’s and Feeding Northeast Florida at our side, we have been able to truly make a difference in the lives of our neighbors. It’s like night and day…the difference in what we can provide now. We are truly thankful.”
Representatives from the local BJ’s Wholesale Clubs in Jacksonville and Orange Park, along with Feeding Northeast Florida, visited the church today to see the impact the grant is having on fighting hunger in Jacksonville.
“BJ’s Wholesale Club is proud to expand our role in the fight against hunger by giving back to such vital organizations as Feeding Northeast Florida and Christian Fellowship Ministries,” said Kevin Ramminger, assistant vice president of regional operations at BJ’s Wholesale Club. “Supporting Feeding Northeast Florida and their local agencies’ need for capacity building will ensure that perishable food can reach the people who need it most in our own backyard.”
Since the capacity project launched late last year, Feeding Northeast Florida has partnered with 13 member agencies in four area counties – providing them with eight coolers, four freezers and 14 freezer blankets. The targeted capacity building has enabled the agency to provide nearly 100,000 pounds of healthy fresh and frozen food to food-insecure families living in communities that don’t have access to fresh food, also known as food deserts.