Roughly 100,000 pounds of food will be given away Saturday when the 11th annual Help The Hungry Outreach returns to New Life Church and Ministries in Hillsboro.
Bill Bowman, pastor at the church, said he expects the event will benefit 800 to 1,000 families from an 11-county area. He said there are no requirements to receive food, other than a short questionnaire to fill out so the church can keep records that help it secure funding to receive more food.
In the past, the event was held at Liberty Park on Hillsboro’s north side, but Bowman said it was moved back to the church location at 6101 SR 247 last year because some people had trouble getting around at the park. And, since New Life Church and Ministries gives away food 51 other Fridays a year at the same location, it is better equipped there.
“In the past at the park, local officials helped pass out the food, and that put a face on poverty and let people know the officials cared about them,” Bowman said. “But at the park, people had to walk through the line and we had a lot of elderly people who couldn’t do that, and I think we had a lot of people that didn’t come that week, so we went back to the church.”
At the church, people never have to leave their car.
“They just drive through the line in their car, they stop at one station and we’ll load some food in, then they drive to the next station and get more food and so on like that,” Bowman said.
With help from 80 to 90 volunteers, Bowman said, the church can load up 700 to 800 cars in about three hours.
The gates for Saturday’s event open at 10 a.m. The food giveaway will start at 1 p.m. Beginning at 11:30 a.m., there will be a program featuring a spiritual message from Bill and Rebecca Bracey with Word of Life Ministries in Dayton and music by the New Life Church Praise Team. The message and music come to visitors by a speaker system, so people can even stay in their vehicles for that.
The only thing that will be offered indoors is Ivy’s Clothes Closet, where visitors can receive free clothes, books, etc. The closet even sometimes provides free appliances, but Bowman said there is a waiting list for that.
Visitors receive more food than usual at Help The Hungry Outreach, but Bowman said the other 51 weeks, beginning at 2 p.m. on Fridays, the church serves about 400 to 500 families, and Ivy’s Clothes Closet is always open. Again, there are no requirements other than about half a sheet of paperwork to fill out, he said.
Like Saturday’s event, the Friday giveaways are held rain or shine, no matter how warm or how cold it is.
“People are hungry when it’s cold, too,” Bowman said. “A lot of people depend on this. For some of them it’s either buy medicine or buy food, so we try to help them out with what we can. You can come every week, and if you come, you get food.”
On Saturday, Bowman said visitors will receive a trunk load of food. He said the offerings will include meat, vegetables, canned goods, fresh salad, bread, ready-to-eat meals, dry bag soup, Kroger snacks, candy, beverages and more.
It would not be possible to make the event happen, Bowman said, without financial help the ministry receives from DDS Lesia Langston and Merchants National Bank, and the use of equipment from Five Points Implement Company. For instance, he said last month he had a $2,400 diesel fuel bill alone. He also regularly delivers food to 30 to 40 other food banks.
“What people don’t realize is that it takes a lot of money to give away free food,” Bowman said.
Anyone who would like to help out financially or as a volunteer can call Bill Bowman at 937-402-1653 or his wife, Linda Bowman, at 937-402-1429.
Bowman said there is one reason why he and his volunteers keep delivering food to those in need.
“It’s the call of God,” he said. “God tells us in Matthew to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. It’s just what we do. And as long and he provides, we’ll keep doing it.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.