Christ Church Cares (CCC) operates a local outreach ministry that provides food and other necessities to our parishioners and neighbors. In February 2010, CCC began a once-a-month, large-scale food distribution program—a community food service for Clarke County residents. The pantry is a member of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. We are qualified for USDA food and also receive donations from local individuals and businesses. Fresh seasonal vegetables come from neighbors’ gardens and from the Millwood Community Garden, which CCC supports with time and treasure. We receive venison from Hunters for the Hungry, as well as from local hunters.
Our Food Pantry began in February 2010 with 16 families. Through the first eight months of 2017, we have received 387 client visits representing 885 individuals, with many coming multiple times during the year. Because of this growth, we now open our pantry on first Fridays from 1:00 – 3:00 PM exclusively for seniors or clients with special needs. Then on first Saturdays, we are open to residents from the Millwood, Boyce and White Post area from 9:00 – 11:00 AM. Every effort is made to assemble the most nutritious food that we can find and afford, with a heavy emphasis on fresh vegetables and quality proteins. For example, every month, we offer grass-fed hamburger that is naturally raised by two neighbors. We look for canned goods low in sodium and sugar and avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup. Thanks to the generosity of Panera Bread and Wegman’s, we can offer high-quality baked goods.
One parishioner began a dog and cat food ministry that is popular with our clients.
Our goal is to eliminate food insecurity in Clarke County. To that end, in June 2014 we began a summer feeding program for Clarke County students with food insecurity. Each Monday and Tuesday during the summer months, from 9:00 - 11:00 AM, families with school-age children are able to visit and stock up on a week's worth of food, including perishable lunch meats, dairy and fruits. This pilot program was possible because of grants from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and the Diocese of Virginia’s Mustard Seed Program. This program is ongoing and just completed its 2017 summer assistance.
Community support for the food pantry has been sustained, creative, and generous. In fact, half our volunteers are non-parishioners who are attracted to our hands-on approach to eliminating local food insecurity. Thanks to grants from Land O’Lakes Foundation and again, the Diocese of Virginia, we were able to purchase two refrigerators and three freezers. Another two freezers were privately donated.
We have received food from birthday parties where the honoree asked for food donations in lieu of presents. Many neighbors spontaneously bring donations. One grandmother “gave” her grandchildren a generous pantry donation as their holiday presents. Powhatan School has been a wonderful neighbor. Their Fifth Grade has held numerous food and clothing drives for us, and they routinely help keep our shelves well stocked. Likewise, Millwood Country Club has, for the past three years, held a holiday party and its ‘ticket’ is a food donation which brought us many hundreds of pounds of staples! All in all, we operate in a generous community.
We remain grateful for the space made available for the pantry in what is known as Bishop's Chapel, on the grounds of Christ Church, Millwood, and have done our best to replicate the grocery experience for our clients with open shelves, small grocery carts, and products in the same place every month. Clients now can wait their turn out of the weather, seated on pews and chairs. Our goal is to always be respectful as we know that no one wants to come to a food pantry.