It’s been more than a year since the Norwalk church began its weekly food pantry. This ministry serves more than 100 families each week with fresh fruit, dry food, bread, pastries, clothing, diapers, and more.
Food comes through multiple partnerships and sources, including the Los Angeles Food Bank, El Camino A Cristo church, and more. Donations of clothing and other items are given by church members. “It’s become very, very, very powerful in terms of helping to reduce food insecurities in the neighborhood and community,” Peter Baptiste, Norwalk church pastor, noted.
When Peter began serving at Norwalk church as their pastor in November 2021, he and his wife, Melissa, brought experience and excitement to launch this ministry. Melissa serves the church as community services director and oversees the operation of the food pantry. “We’re really connecting with the Norwalk community,” she shared. “It’s given us a chance to meet where there is a need and given us a chance to reach out and invite them to programs.”
The majority of people who come to the food bank are from the surrounding community. Some come with children, and Melissa notes that they’ve made a point to reach out to those in the community with kids to let them know about the food pantry. A single mother and her two children who came to the food pantry from the community have given their lives to Christ as a result. The kids come to Sabbath School every single Sabbath, and the mother joined the church’s Spanish Sabbath School class.
The food pantry has also been impactful in the homeless community around the church. People have come and received free clothes, water, and food to go. The church also has a shower available when the food pantry is open, providing soap and a towel plus clothes from the food pantry.
The food pantry is supported by about 10 to 12 volunteers each week, mostly from the church with a few from the community. Sometimes the number of volunteers fluctuates by a few, but Melissa isn’t worried. On days when more work needs to be done, like when the vegetable truck arrives, more volunteers show up. “God sends according to what we need—that’s what I believe,” she said.
These efforts aren’t the end—far from it. A juicing ministry began to take shape last fall with a seminar that taught attendees how to use fresh vegetable and fruit juices to enhance health, lose weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and more. Peter makes juice every Sunday, so the food pantry gives people an opportunity to sign up for future seminars.
There are also plans to launch additional ministries through the food outreach program: credit repair ministry, small business coaching outreach ministry for local small businesses, anger management ministry for people ordered by the court to take anger management, domestic violence and marital ministry, as well as Bible studies.