Responding — with a smile

Bishop, Rolland lead way to feed hungry

The first full week of coronavirus emergency measures found two Farragut ladies ramping up services to hungry members of the community.

Becky Bishop, food coordinator for Concord United Methodist Church, saw her Thursday meal preparations for church shut-ins nearly double, while Robin Rolland, executive director for Compassion Ministry, offered through Cornerstone Church of God and Christ Covenant Church, saw her bi-monthly food pantry collection spike, too.

“I know we have double what we normally have,” Rolland said Thursday, March 19, as cars lined up from Knox, Loudon and Roane counties for the distribution at Cornerstone.

“I do think the coronavirus, the jobs lost, the kids being out of school, has driven our numbers up,” she added.

Because of a fear of virus transmission and contracting COVID-19, recipients did not leave their cars as volunteers asked pertinent questions about their needs, while others filled boxes with milk, pork chops, bread, fruit and other pantry staples, and placed them inside open trunks or truck beds.

Rolland said 152 families were served. “The Lord has provided an abundance this time, and we really need it,” she added.

“We can’t give what the Lord can give. I stand in amazement every day at what He provides.”

Bishop normally prepares less than 20 meals for shut-ins, which are delivered by volunteer teams on Thursdays. Last week, since the church’s adult day care had to shut down, Bishop picked up feeding several of those individuals and others in need, bringing the total to just under 40.

She works in tandem with a vibrant Missions Outreach at CUMC, which had received word that 25 families in the Cedar Bluff area “had no food.”

That need was further complicated because many area grocery stores had been picked over by anxious customers.

“We were able to make do,” Bishop said. “But we are all strugging, trying to help the people who need it most. My concern is that the needs are only going to increase from here on out.”

By week’s end, Bishop had started TLC Meals on Facebook, looking to grow the church’s outreach. “Our food vendor has assured me we will get enough supplies, even as our needs increase,” she said.

The church also offers personal shoppers for those who can’t leave the homes while recruiting folks to help with meal preparation and deliveries.

The church also partners with Farragut Presbyterian, First Baptist Concord and Faith Lutheran Church on the Shepherd of Hope Food Pantry housed at FLC.

Food donations can dropped off for the Food Pantry, which will distributed next on Monday, March 30.

“We need more donations for the food pantry,” noted Marilyn Giles, who is missions assistant at CUMC.

Anyone who can help, or needs help, may e-mail, or call the church at 865-966-6728.

Rolland, too, expects additional food pantry needs will be required in the coming days.

“We have had calls from restaurants, asking us if their employees can come to the food pantry,” she said. “Due to the virus, they are laying them off and we will opening up our pantry to all of them.”