2021 marks 10 years since the ReNewed Hope Food Pantry first began in a small closet at the New Haven Church in Overland Park, Kansas. Volunteers gathered at the Eagles Landing for dinner and praise music on January 21 to mark this milestone and praise God for bringing food and volunteers to serve the community over these many years.
In the first months, the pantry served about five families a week, recalls Faye Martin, who founded the pantry along with Pastor Chanda Nunes in January 2011. The pantry has grown so much since then, and this past year has been especially pivotal. “I believe God put it in our hearts to start the pantry so many years ago because He knew it would grow and be able to help people during this pandemic,” explained Faye.
Here are some highlights in the history of the pantry:
- The ReNewed Hope Food Pantry started in January of 2011 in a closet in the church library.
- In 2013 the pantry moved into the adult hallway and classrooms.
- The pantry began operating as a Harvesters agency in January 2014.
- In early 2015 New Haven began operating a specialty food pantry with gluten-free items in addition to the traditional pantry. After two years, the church merged the gluten-free and traditional food pantry into one.
- Also, in 2015 the New Haven church started a community garden for pantry clients and neighborhood garden plot renters.
- In 2015 New Haven also began collecting items for sale and opened a Clothes Closet with clothes and household items
- In January of 2018 the pantry expanded service even further by adding Harvesters mobile distributions twice a month.
In 2020, during the pandemic, the pantry expanded hours and moved to a mobile and curbside distribution model to serve more people safely. Clients who came for food assistance tripled over the previous year. Expanded programs were possible with many volunteers from New Haven Church, many Adventist and other area churches, and organizations and businesses in the community.
A look at some of the numbers help explain the impact. In 2020 and during the pandemic ReNewed Hope Food Pantry:
- Provided food assistance for 28,633 household visits representing 131,623 people visits. (For comparison, in 2019, the pantry provided food assistance for 8,545 household visits representing 28,624 people visits.)
- Distributed 1,923,272 pounds of food (For comparison, in 2019 the pantry distributed about 605,384 pounds of food.)
- During the pandemic from March to the end of December 2020, the pantry operated with 537 volunteers and 10,506 volunteers hours.
Remembering the history during our volunteer appreciation event in January provided a great way to say thank you to the many volunteers who have served over these years and who continue to serve. The event followed health authority guidelines for COVID-19 but still many volunteers were not able to attend due to being in high-risk categories.
We want to thank all of the many volunteers and leaders who guided the ReNewed Hope Food Pantry to become the community resource it is today. Also, we want to pray our neighbors who receive food will also receive hope and that their hearts will be thankful, knowing God provides all we need.