Since 2014, the Bread of Life Food Pantry, a ministry of the Village Church in Lancaster, Massachusetts, has faithfully served the surrounding community, providing much-needed food assistance. God has expanded the ministry, which now assists five additional churches to serve people in their communities. The ministry has stayed active during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people are seeking help with putting food on their tables.
As businesses suffered due to government-imposed shutdowns to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, donations to the food bank dropped significantly. On some days, Sandra Mendes, Bread of Life director, would ask her volunteers to pray for more food to meet the growing need. “At the beginning of this pandemic, we were so afraid that the supermarkets would stop donating, but we started to pray and ask God to take control [of the situation],” said Mendes. God continues to supply enough food to help those who come out on distribution days. “Many times we had to pray, and on [distribution days] we always had enough!”
Due to the social distancing guidelines implemented by the state, Bread of Life volunteers set up an area outside in the church’s parking lot for people to pick up pre-packed food boxes. Mendes credits the leadership of Kenroy Malcolm, Village Church pastor, and Frankie Vasquez, Southern New England Conference Adventist Community Services director, as well as the teamwork and dedication of the volunteers that helped the ministry make the smooth transition.
Each Tuesday, the volunteers don face masks and gloves before serving the line of people waiting their turn at marked spots to maintain a six-foot space between them. “Another blessing is that each Tuesday when we serve the families [outside], the weather [has been] great and is cooperating with God’s work!” Mendes says.
Bread of Life Ministry is one of several food pantries in the North American Division that received funds as part of a $1.5 million donation from the NAD Adventist Community Services to help offset the influx of people needing assistance. Mendes used the money to purchase more food during the pandemic, in addition to supporting other churches to provide food to families in five Massachusetts communities. With their help, more than 50 families in Framingham, Marlboro, Lynn, and Boston received food assistance. In addition, the pantry provided food to the Sterling church, which donated it to some 75 residents of a rooming house located in downtown Worcester, where about a quarter of those living there had tested positive for COVID-19.
Mendes praises God for faithful volunteers and partnerships with other churches with dedicated members who expand the food ministry to serve others outside of Lancaster. “During these moments when there is so much fear about everything, and we are going through an uncertain situation, our God is awesome. He has proved to us that He has everything in His hands,” Mendes says. “We believe that when this bad situation gets better, or is done, all that people will remember will be our kindness and compassion for each other.”
—Communication department, Village Church