Willow Grove church steps up its mission to feed the hungry during the pandemic

WILLOW GROVE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- For 40 years, the Willow Grove Seventh-day Adventist Church has run a monthly food pantry.

"But since the pandemic, we started opening three times per week!" said Elaine Williams with the Willow Grove Seventh-day Adventist Church Pantry.

They changed from an indoor, supermarket-style pantry to an outdoor drive-through to keep everyone safe.

"Everything to make breakfast, everything for lunch, everything for dinner or supper, they're able to get," Williams said.

And they're serving people they've never served before.

"I've met people who have cried, men who have cried, and I tried to encourage them to let them know that there's no reason to feel shame," said Pastor Marleena Debrough.

When kids went back to school, the church was able to cut back from three days a week to two.

But still....

"We find it to be a much greater need," said Williams. "And we don't see where it's going to even stop in the future."

Last month, they got a refrigerated van from Philabundance so they could store perishables and deliver to the homebound.

"Philabundance has really been there for us," Williams said.

And being there for the community is part of the SDA mission.

"We go and travel wherever there are disasters, providing food, shelter," said Debrough.

"We do what Jesus would do: feed the hungry, take care of the sick," said Williams.

With the pandemic, they're finding the most pressing need right here at home. They're providing food and a sense of hope in a time of crisis.

"Just to make sure that the people feel loved, and that they know that even though you're going through a tough time that we are in this with you," said Debrough. "Trouble don't last always. Someday you're going to come out of this."
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