The Faith United Methodist Church Food Pantry, a branch of Community Support System located in Brandywine, MD, began in June 1997. Our food supplies are excess food from Giant, Food Lion, BJ’s, and Wal Mart. We also purchase food from the Capital Area Food Bank. Our food pick up is done on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We also occasionally receive food from gleaners and donations from two churches. Our distribution begins at 11:00 a.m. every Friday morning with the exception of the Friday after Thanksgiving and when a holiday falls on a Friday. We serve an average of 40 – 50 families each Friday. We often distribute emergency food to families who are not our regular clients. We have approximately 20 volunteer pantry workers. About half of these volunteers are from our church and the others are neighbors who want to serve. About 14 volunteers work every Friday and the others substitute as needed. We also have a nurse who joins us to take the blood pressure for those requesting it. At times the person in charge of the Community Support System joins us with information and resources for people needing help paying utility bills, rent, other food sources, etc. Some of our clients have been with us since our opening in 1997.
The homeless outreach program at Faith UMC was started more than fifteen years ago by Michael Bennett and his then friend, now wife, Grace. At the time they were students at Wesley Seminary and Michael was serving as an assistant pastor at Faith UMC under the tutelage of Rev. Dennis Dorsch. While in Washington, D.C. one evening they observed some homeless people and were moved to do something to help. As a first step, they bought some bread, sandwich meat and cheese and made sandwiches which they distributed. Thru this small act of kindness evolved the homeless outreach program at Faith United Methodist Church in Accokeek, MD.
Reverend Dorsch picked up on the program and the congregation began providing the makings for approximately 40 lunches which were distributed every Sunday evening in and around the downtown section of Washington. Each lunch included a sandwich, snacks such as chips, fruit, a dessert item and a drink. With the help of a driver, Rev. Dorsch delivered the lunches in his car for several years until Faith UMC acquired a van. This acquisition upgraded the program and made it possible to distribute more lunches as well as articles of clothing, blankets and sundry other items, including health kits.
Eventually the program increased to the point that the small congregation at Faith was strained to continue on. It was at this point that Rev. Dorsch enlisted the help of several young Methodist pastors that he had been mentoring and who now had churches of their own. There are four churches who, on a rotating basis, now provide the meals, clothing, etc. and Faith UMC provides leadership and additional transportation in the distribution to the homeless each week. The four churches are: St. Thomas in Manassas, VA, Andrew Chapel in Stafford, VA, Cedar Grove in Deale, MD and Union Chapel in Berkley Springs, WV. The number of homeless people served each week fluctuates from 150-160 during the spring, summer and fall to 80-90 in the colder months.