Coming Together to Help Those In Need
On Friday and Saturday, May 1st and 2nd, nearly 90 volunteers worked with Ministry Village at Olive to sort and pack bags and boxes of food for those in need throughout our community.
Just a week earlier, Patriot Emergency Response Team, a nonprofit organization based in Crescent City, Florida, and Ministry Village Executive Director Jeremy Portmann had connected through an Olive Baptist Church member. “Kevin Kirkpatrick, a member of Olive, had some business contacts who knew Patriot Emergency Response Team was organizing community food giveaways throughout the state. Kevin helped connect us to Patriot, and once we learned how they could help the Pensacola area, we knew we needed to work with them to make it happen.” The food distribution was led by a partnership between Patriot Emergency Response Team and Farm Share, Inc.
Patriot Emergency Response Team, or P.E.R.T., describes their organization as “a 24 hour emergency response team nationwide.” Founded in 2008, they work with local, county, state and federal agencies and other volunteer organizations before, during and after disasters to provide a wide array of assistance including food, water, shelter, and hands-on cleanup. They have members who are trained in reconnaissance, search and rescue, emergency medical assistance, advanced life support, construction and crisis management. They offer their services to communities during all stages of a disaster including rescue, relief and rebuilding, with a mission that states, “Do all of the good that you can, for all of the time that you can, for as long as you can.”
P.E.R.T. works with a number of local, state and national partners depending on the needs of the communities it is serving. In this case, they were working as a conduit for Farm Share to help distribute food throughout the state of Florida. Farm Share’s Facebook page states that it “operates the only charitable produce packinghouse in the Eastern United States.” As families lose income and look for ways to feed their families, nonperishable dry goods like rice and beans become staples; however, less readily-available fresh foods like produce and meats are vital to provide necessary nutrition. These fresh, perishable items are more difficult to distribute because of their short shelf-life. Farm Share, Inc. focuses on re-packing fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away. They receive food in bulk then sort, pack, store and ship tractor-trailer loads of fresh food to areas that can get it into the hands of those who need it. Farm Share’s mission is “ to make sure that no Floridian goes hungry and no food goes to waste.
Ministry Village was able to mobilize a team of volunteers who could sort and pack the items donated by Farm Share through P.E.R.T., into family food bags for local distribution. Because much of the food Ministry Village was receiving required refrigeration, they reached out to local food distributor Butler Foods in Pensacola. “Butler was a critical partner in the success of this food giveaway,” said Jeremy. “They provided the space for our volunteers to safely sort and pack the food; they stored the food in their refrigerated trucks; and then Saturday morning, they transported the food to our distribution site. We couldn’t have been successful in such a massive distribution without them.”
On Friday, May 1st, 86 volunteers sorted and packed the 30,000 pounds of donated food into more than 1,200 bags. Most bags contained an assortment of frozen chicken, boxed snack foods, and some produce. Distribution was scheduled to begin at 9:30AM on Saturday, May 2nd in the parking lot of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; however, organizers found that people had been lining up beginning around 2AM to ensure they received some of the food. Not wanting to keep people waiting longer than necessary, calls went out to volunteers asking them to arrive early, and setup kicked into high gear. Hundreds were in line by 8AM and MVO was able to begin distribution early. Sadly, the need for food was much greater throughout our community than anyone ever wants to see. What was expected to be a steady distribution lasting a good part of the day was finished much too quickly, with all 30,000 pounds of food distributed shortly after 10AM.
“We are so thankful to Farm Share and Patriot Emergency Response Team for reaching out and letting us serve the community with these donations,” said Jeremy. “There is so much need in our area right now, and we hope to do more of these large-scale distributions soon to serve our friends and neighbors who need the help.” Until then, the Ministry Village Tender Hearts Caring Hands Food Pantry continues its normal operation. Each weekday, Tender Hearts is open to help. Those who qualify can receive 1 family food bag (designed to feed a family of 4 for 3 days) every 6 months. Requirements include a photo ID, social security number and income criteria. For more details, visit the Ministry Village at Olive website by clicking here.
Jeremy and his team at Ministry Village wish to thank all of the volunteers and the staff at Olive Baptist Church for their hard work and support, not only in this project but also in the many others where their help is critical. “We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, serving our community, and we’re named ‘Ministry Village’ because we offer a variety of programs to support a variety of needs. But one thing is consistent throughout all of our ministries – we absolutely could not do what we do without the helping hands and giving hearts of our volunteers and supporters. Their support encourages us every day.”
🧡 The Tender Hearts Caring Hands Food Pantry accepts donations Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 2PM at the Ministry Village at Olive office (1716 E. Olive Road, behind Olive Baptist Church). Donations of nonperishable food items and travel-size hygiene are accepted. Financial donations are also appreciated and go toward purchasing the items THCH distributes each day. Supporters can also make purchases through Amazon and items can be shipped directly to the Ministry Village at Olive office.
💙 The most up-to-date drive-thru hours are posted on the Ministry Village at Olive Facebook page. The Food Pantry drive thru is weather permitting. Hours vary by day and are subject to change. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work diligently to meet everyone’s needs while following CDC safety guidelines.
❤️ The mission of Ministry Village at Olive is to put the words of Jesus into action throughout our community – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) If you are looking for a place to demonstrate kindness to others for the glory of God, give us a call. We have opportunities through the Bargain Center; at our Tender Hearts Caring Hands benevolence program and food pantry; through the Most Excellent Way addiction support groups; at the Charis House, ladies addiction recovery program; and at the Ministry Village Early Learning Center preschool and childcare facility. Visit our volunteer page to signup, or call our office at (850) 473-4466.