By Steve Sears
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church, located on busy Route 46 in Budd Lake, has its tiny bit of peace that speaks mountains.
“Abiding Peace has had a food pantry for more than 30 years,” says Sibylle Schroder, Social Ministry Chairperson at the church. The food pantry is open to anyone from anywhere. Background checks are not performed nor is anyone asked where they live. “However, Abiding Peace is not centrally located for people to walk to – usually people come in a car and for the two bags of food once a month, it has to be worth driving the distance,” says Schroeder.
Many people in the Abiding Peace congregation donate food, and a specific list of what is needed is handed out. Christine Strobel, Secretary, informs the group when something is needed, or quantities are low. “She also helps me put the food away and is usually the one handing it out,” says Schroeder, “since she is there every day. Our pantry is more of a closet or two (if we have overflow) and any congregation member can help sort and rearrange, if it is needed throughout the year.” She continues, “It is mostly our members that bring in the food for the pantry, though we have received food from different food drives like the Boy Scouts over the years. Our rule is that everything needs to have an expiration date of several months, because if it is past the date, we are not able to give the food out. In food drives many times people clean out their own shelves and do not check for dates. This creates a lot of extra work, where we have to check all the food and often throw out some of the items.”
The following items are always needed in the pantry: cereal and Parmalat milk, tuna fish, canned soup, vegetables, beans and fruit, packaged rice and potatoes, noodles and tomato sauce, peanut butter and jelly. “We also need bread, hot dogs and hot dog rolls, which are kept in the freezer,” says Schroeder.
Per Schroeder, Abiding Peace members are very caring, and the food pantry is also listed with NJ 2-1-1, where people can find different resources if they are in need. Other than that, word of mouth plays a huge role in a pantry letting people know about other pantries.
Abiding Peace also has a garden where items are grown. “All the vegetables grown in our garden are donated to Mount Olive Manor and the Mount Olive Food Pantry,” says Schroeder. “I think it was over 500-pounds last year and we hope to grow more this year. If there is someone in the community that loves gardening and would like to help plant, weed and pick vegetables, please just call the church and we will connect you with our main gardeners,” Schroeder encourages.
Abiding Peace food pantry has since its early days served food at the Dover Faith Kitchen. Schroeder hands out shopping lists for the needed items and the group departs the church at 9 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. “The food is being prepared at Faith Kitchen and throughout the year we cook different things, like chicken, rice and vegetables or Kielbasa with sauerkraut and potatoes, chili rice or in summer when it is hot, we make and serve a nice macaroni salad.”
Pastor Serena Rice says, ““Responding to practical human needs, especially the needs of people facing economic hardships, is central to the teachings of Jesus, and so it has always been an important part of the ministry of Abiding Peace. Our members donate and help to organize the food in our pantry because we believe every person should have enough to eat. Sadly, working hard does not always guarantee that people can cover rent, utilities, gas for the car, medical bills, and have enough left over for food. We cannot end hunger on our own – even if every church in the nation were to open a food pantry we couldn’t end hunger just through charity – but we do our little bit to help, and we know that this is God’s work done through our hands.”
For more information about Abiding Peace Lutheran Church (305 – 311 Route 46 East) and its food pantry, please visit www.abidingpeacechurch.org.