After 10 years, the Delaware Church is still feeding the hungry
“The pantry is a blessing,” said Senior Minister Domingo Reyes of the Greenbank Church. “People call us the best pantry, but we’re not in competition with anyone. We just do it from the heart.”
Church volunteers gave away a variety of prepackaged perishable and nonperishable foods, including meat, bread, vegetables, and pasta. As a partner of the Food Bank of Delaware, the items in the pantry all meet US Department of Agriculture requirements.
Sue Maynard, a pantry founder who processes orders for the program, said the supplies help families supplement the groceries they don’t have at home.
The weekly pantry, located near 511 Greenbank Road, is held every Thursday from 6pm to 6:45pm. It has been in operation for almost a decade and has grown significantly over the years.
Maynard and her husband Ed ran the program as it was formerly known as the Cedars Church of Christ Pantry. The name change to Greenbank relates to the merger of the Cedars Church of Christ and the First State Church of Christ.
Reyes previously served in the First State Church. He said the two churches — one predominantly white and one predominantly black — became one congregation in 2019.
“Cedars started that and the pantry is a big part of our story now,” Reyes said.
On November 1st, the pantry in Wilmington celebrates its 10th anniversary.
“The good Lord made it possible for us and I give him all my praise,” Maynard said, adding that a young couple attending the church came up with the idea in 2012.
Since its inception, the community has been very supportive of the pantry over the years. Maynard recalled when only four people showed up for their first meeting.
“By the end of 2012 we had 100 people and the next year up to 200 families came,” Maynard said. “I thought, woah — it takes a lot of volunteers for so many families.”
After the pandemic swept the nation in 2020, the pantry closed and later reopened in September in its current drive-thru model.
During the pandemic, Reyes said it’s important to ensure the church pantry reopens to anyone who may need help.
The program now serves 65 families each week. While the church has had to scale back the number of its services due to fewer volunteers and social distancing recommendations, the drive-thru model is more efficient, Maynard said.
Meal recipients must register on the Church website using the letter (AD first week, EL second week, MR third week, SV fourth week) that matches their family’s last name. According to Maynard, the number of family members determines how many bags of groceries each family receives at the drive-thru.
“We’ve actually found that this way we can spend more and offer more services because it’s a more organized operation now,” Maynard said. “We have no plans to distribute from the building again.”
In addition to the weekly free food distribution, Church volunteers also give away essential non-food items they receive.
“We won’t be opening a closet anytime soon, but we have a lot of other things coming up that we’re making sure the homeless get them … like gloves for the winter,” Maynard said. “We don’t want to waste anything.”
The Greenbank Church of Christ pantry is one of the largest emergency food distributors in the Wilmington area, according to the Food Bank of Delaware website.
Maynard estimates the pantry has distributed £6million of groceries since it opened.