By MADDY VITALE
The dining area inside St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Ocean City had an abundance of foods lining the tables.
But they weren’t meals to be eaten by the parishioners, but rather rows of nonperishable items from crackers, to cereal, pastas and peanut butter, donated by the community to help feed those with food insecurity.
“There are 200 families in South Jersey in need of certain things. We are sorting through the boxes,” Kathy Thompson, an Ocean City resident and member of St. Pete’s, said Wednesday.
Thompson is in charge of God’s Kitchen at St. Pete’s. Each month, she and other volunteers help feed the homebound, homeless and others in need with the donated foods.
“Some of the items will go to families in South Jersey. Some will go to God’s Kitchen,” she added.
Thompson said some of the items would go to the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard. Other items would go to Waves of Caring, a city-sanctioned charity that helps underprivileged families, and Branches, a nonprofit social services agency in Rio Grande that has a food pantry.
Thompson, along with Jen Bowman, of Ocean City, who is in charge of the food ministry at the church, are busy throughout the year and especially around the holidays — packing, sorting and in the case of God’s Kitchen, preparing foods donated to help the community and families in the surrounding area.
Bowman said that this year they also partnered with Ocean City business Johnson’s Popcorn for the food drive. Johnson’s Popcorn is collecting 200 boxes of an assortment of foods for the 200 families identified as in need in the Cape May County.
Johnson’s Popcorn asked for boxes of cake and pancake mixes, jars of spaghetti sauce, pasta, kids’ snacks and bottles of juice and cookies.
Bowman stressed that while there is a definite need in her hometown, there are individuals and families throughout Cape May County who need assistance, which is one of the reasons why they partner with other organizations.
“There is a lot of food insecurity in Cape May County. The Food Ministry at St Peter’s Church works year-round to help feed Ocean City residents a hot meal once a month,” she said.
Bowman emphasized that the end of the month can be challenging for some individuals and families.
“Many of our residents are on Social Security or Disability and we have found that at the end of the month many folks are low on funds, so St Peter’s serves a hot meal the last Wednesday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Bowman said.
“At Christmas and Easter, we partner with Waves of Caring and The Foodbank of New Jersey to provide food to the Ocean City children who are on free and reduced lunch and may not get much food over the holiday break from school,” she added.
Bowman stressed that volunteers are always welcomed, as are dessert donations and monetary donations.
For more information, call St. Peter’s United Methodist Church at (609) 399-2988 or visit www.makingwaves.church. For more information about the Ocean City Ecumenical Council, go to ocecnj.org and for Branches click thebranchesoutreach.org.