Soul food: Central Christian uses groceries as ministry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The food pantry in Ironton's Central Christian Church was set up not just to fill bellies, but also to feed hungry spirits.

"It's just a ministry, just a helping hand to people in Lawrence County," volunteer David Nunnally said. "And, if they don't go to church someplace, we invite them here because we don't get any money from the government, it's all church-provided."

Nunnally was called to take over the food bank about two years ago when its former caretakers left the church.

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The pantry was started to help church members, or needy people that church members referred. But Nunnally said

the service extends beyond that limited circle of people.

"I haven't stuck to that," Nunnally said. "If someone comes here and tells me they're hungry and want something to eat, we'll give it to them, whether they're a member of this church or not. I've never stopped anybody."

Nunnally estimates that approximately 280 people, including all members of families, are fed by the food pantry each month.

The volunteers usually have a $1,000 per month budget from the church, which they stretch to the limit by doing their shopping at the Huntington-area Food Bank, where they receive groceries for 18 cents per pound.

Even with those bargain prices, the food pantry still sees hard times occasionally, especially during the holidays. Somehow though, Nunnally and crew always find a way to continue.

"A few times we've been down to nothing but soup and crackers," Nunnally said. "But normally you'll see our shelves with beans and corn and soups and things. It's rare to run completely out of food, I don't think we've ever had to shut the place completely down."

The volunteers spend two hours in the pantry two days a week. The volunteers all say they enjoy the time to catch up with friends, which one refers to as "the Armco hour" with many of the men having retired from the steel manufacturer.

Fred Diamond certainly seems to enjoy passing the time with his fellow volunteers, but more than anything, he views the food pantry as a way to practice his faith.

"I enjoy seeing people coming in here that are hungry and need food and we give it to them," Diamond said. "Christ tells you that if you have an abundance of anything, give it away. That's what I believe in."