As Pastor Jeff Hayes looked around his community of Sioux Falls in the days following the economic crash of 2008, he noticed something that we don’t always associate with our Midwestern communities. He saw friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table each week for their families.
Along with the remarkable members of his congregation at Faith Temple Church, Pastor Jeff decided to do something about the hunger in his city, and so began the tremendous ministry of the Faith Temple Food Giveaway.
Each week, a church that sees a weekly attendance in the 150 to 200 range hosts a food distribution that offers thousands of pounds of food, completely free of charge, to hundreds upon hundreds of people. Pastor Jeff explains how such a massive effort can stem from such a relatively small group of caring people.
We kind of have a model here at the church that you’re not a spectator. You’re a participant! And new people that come in to the church – we inform them of that rather quickly! And they get busy, and they get involved in the work of the ministry.
You know that Jesus said we’re supposed to be fishers of men. I appreciate that! And another person says, you know, we’re not called to be the keepers of the aquarium. We’re called to be fishers of men. And so we just get people busy doing the Lord’s work.
In the midst of so many bleak headlines, the concept of those in need being fed – both in terms of physical food and real hope that people care – just really makes you smile.
Pastor Jeff reflects on how that hope took shape and specifically whether or not the people that began to frequent the weekly giveaway were perhaps individuals he might have expected to see.
Well I sort of was surprised – although, you know – in my travels around Sioux Falls one day I was sitting in a business and I looked across the street and saw a man digging through a dumpster. And I thought, you know, there’s a need here in Sioux Falls.
We realize that oftentimes people who are hungry are invisible. And you just don’t see.
You know, they may be able to drive a car & live in your neighborhood. But they can certainly be struggling. A variety of people continue to come the giveaway, and it’s not always the same people from week to week. But a lot of the people are the working poor.
Of course, in Sioux Falls people may say that there’s plenty of jobs available, and there are and people are employed. But they just don’t make enough money to pay the rent or the mortgage and take care of the needs of their kids in school. And oftentimes these can be older people. They struggle a lot and tell us, “Well I oftentimes choose between buying food or my medication.
I’m amazed at the numbers of people that do continue to to need food. But the good thing – we have pledged ourselves to help people as long as the need exists.