Beans and Rice Ministry to distribute food SaturdayBy Emily Beckett Published 5:08pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Although summer is winding down, many families might be experiencing financial stress as they prepare to send children back to school.
Ministries at local churches like Trinity Episcopal Church hope to help.
Trinity supplies food the first Saturday of every month for local residents in need through the church’s Beans and Rice Ministry.
“Over 20 percent of Chilton County has what is called food insufficiency,” said the Rev. William King, rector at Trinity. “Food stamps go just so far. We have a lot of people who run out of food at the end of the month.”
Trinity’s next food distribution event will be from 9–11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, the same day as West End Baptist Church’s “Pack to School” project and Clanton First United Methodist Church’s clothing giveaway called “Christ’s Closet” will take place.
The Beans and Rice Ministry provides three to four days’ worth of non-perishable foods to families, free of charge.
“We started out just giving everybody beans and rice uncooked,” King said. “Everybody gets 5 pounds of uncooked beans and rice for their family, no questions asked.”
As the ministry grew, other foods joined the monthly allotment of beans and rice, including Ramen noodles, bread, canned fruits and vegetables, chicken broth, peanut butter and homegrown vegetables from farmers markets and a garden Trinity’s members planted behind the church earlier this year.
Every month, King said the ministry serves nearly 100 families, all of which receive about 17 pounds of food.
“We’ve been doing this for nine years now monthly,” King said. “Our model provides three to four days of food for a family. We put together a real neat assortment of food. We put little recipes in from time to time on how to cook pinto beans.”
The ministry also packs separate snack bags for children containing items such as Capri Sun pouches, Nutri-Grain bars and fruit cups.
Recently, the ministry added free books, in both English and Spanish, for children to take home.
“We do a little bit extra for children who come with parents,” King said. “It’s developed. Over half our members directly participate in this every month.”
Trinity’s Beans and Rice Ministry is modeled after the one King’s brother started about 35 years ago at a Presbyterian church in Arkansas.
“When we were looking for something to do for the community, he told me about what they do,” King said. “Little would I have known … that eight years later, 17 parishes around the Diocese of Alabama and parishes in Kansas, Mississippi, Virginia and Florida would have also taken up the Beans and Rice Ministry of once a month sharing food with families in need.”
When Trinity’s ministry launched in October 2005, King said he learned that Alabama was No. 1 in the number of residents experiencing “very low” food security, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We advertise monthly with a sign board on the street in front of the church for one week before the Saturday morning food sharing, and we promise free, uncooked beans (2 pounds of pinto beans) and rice (3 pounds of rice) to every family,” King said. “No questions asked and no names taken. We just keep track of how many families we serve and how many pounds of beans and rice we share.”
“It’s an act of kindness for us to do for others,” King said. “Anybody can come.”
Ministry volunteers pray a prayer of blessing before the food sharing begins the first Saturday morning each month.
King said volunteers to help pack and distribute the food are always welcome.
Additionally, Trinity is collecting clothes to donate to the Christ’s Closet giveaway at CFUMC on Aug. 2 and school supplies for Maplesville.
For more information about the Beans and Rice Ministry, call (205) 755-3339 or stop by Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 503 Second Ave. S. in Clanton.