A solution to hunger that is intrinsic to diocesan mission
The ministry of Anglicare’s pantry vans is booming across the Diocese, with the number of parishes running a Mobile Community Pantry (MCP) now standing at 41.
“I think we’ll hit 45 by the end of the year, but the strategic growth plan is to have 100 in five years’ time,” says Anglicare’s MCP manager, Matt Madigan.
“If we can be in a third of parishes in the next five years that would be quite significant, and I think we’ll reach that number easily."
“A number of pantry locations are just ‘going off’ – they’re doing so well. In some ways that’s sad, but it shows there’s obviously a need out there. We’re pleased that Anglicare can be part of the solution, sewn into the fabric of the diocesan mission. It’s really exciting for us.”
The most recent additions to the Mobile Community Pantry service are Moss Vale, Cabramatta, Auburn, Sutherland and Rockdale parishes. Earlwood and Sadlier will begin hosting the service from next month.
The rector of Sutherland, the Rev Tom Hargreaves, says the timing was ideal for his church as a community housing block has just opened across the road. Congregation members have been quick to volunteer, also chatting to shoppers over afternoon tea beforehand – and the number of people using the pantry increases each fortnight.
“We now have contact with people from our community we have never seen before,” he says. “The opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love in this context has been a real highlight for our team.”
Community pantries began in 2016 with the desire to help parishes reach out to those struggling to make ends meet.
People with pension, health or immigrant cards can fill a bag with groceries – potentially worth $60 – for $10.
A selection of pantries now also provide fresh food, and others operate from Anglicare shops.
Says Mr Madigan: “For churches in our Diocese gospel proclamation is so important but more are finding that people aren’t coming on Sunday like they used to. A community development model can help build relationships… as well as providing opportunities to show mercy and compassion without becoming biblically lukewarm.”