Churches unite to fight hunger
About 30 people came to the first Shepherdstown Ministerial Association “Care and Share Meal” held Friday, Jan. 22, at the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department on W.Va 45.
Pastor Fred Soltow has headed up the community outreach effort to feed struggling families, and particularly children.
“There’s probably more people than you think that are suffering,” Soltow said. He took a pan-American journey last summer with two other pastors on a bicycle made for three. They visited Lutheran parishes all along the way, raising awareness and funds to reduce hunger.
On one particular stop, Soltow said the message was driven home that no community, no matter how affluent, is without poverty and hunger. During a visit to a church in a Connecticut neighborhood Soltow said “makes Cress Creek look poor” he met a woman who was laughed at by her congregation when she suggested starting a food pantry three years ago.
By the time Soltow and the “Tour de Revs” made their stop, a $1 million dollar facility had been built, and some 1,500 families had been served at the most recent food distribution.
Soltow uses the Connecticut community as an example of how struggling families can often go undetected.
“We just don’t see them,” Soltow said. He hopes people in the Shepherdstown community will respond to the next two upcoming “Care and Share Meals,” slated for February and March.
“West Virginians basically are proud people, so we’ll see what happens,” he said.
For the first dinner, Soltow’s St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, St. John’s Baptist and the Shepherdstown Quaker congregations provided most of the food and volunteers.
Shepherdstown Sweet Shop provided fresh bread, McDonald’s donated juices, and Food Lion donated groceries to provide sandwiches for families to take home for the weekend.
Pedal & Paddle of German Street organized a giveaway of additional items for children from the Ronald McDonald House charity.
Martinsburg’s Trinity United Methodist Church’s “Trinity 6:34” food ministry, which feeds many homeless people each week, provided assistance to the group and was able to take the leftover food for those in need in Martinsburg.
“The community is really responding well,” Soltow said. The Shepherdstown Ministerial Association churches have committed to providing meals through the next few months at least. To spread the word about the meals, they circulated fliers in local schools, at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHR), and through Meals on Wheels and Good Shepherd Caregivers.
“Basically, it’s an experiment,” Soltow said. “But it’s something that God has called me to do.”
— For more information about the next Care and Share Meal, contact St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at (304) 876-6771 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org