MOUNT JULIET — Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief is hosting the Midwest Food Bank to provide food distribution in Middle Tennessee.
The Midwest Food Bank is a faith-based organization which distributes nearly $34 million worth of food monthly to more than 2,200 non-profit organizations each month from 12 locations in the United States and in East Africa and Haiti. The organizations then distribute the food to needy families in their communities.
Midwest Food Bank began food distribution to agencies around the Middle Tennessee area last month out of the Missions Mobilization Center (MMC) in Mount Juliet, said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
He noted the Midwest Food Bank began with seven organizations in September and hopes to expand up to 20 over the next year or so.
Jones said the MMC was built to be “a ministry hub, not just a building that holds stuff. Currently, we host the disaster relief offices and store state owned equipment.”
He added that the MMC also has been used by three church plants, including current tenant Shiloh Baptist Church which uses the facility to worship in while they prepare to build.
The MMC also serves as a drop-off location for the TBMB Compassion Ministry’s “Christmas Backpack” collection and distribution as well as hosting training events and serving as a collection point for supplies that are needed during disasters, Jones added.
“I had been praying about using our facility for food distribution for a few years after going to God’s Warehouse in Morristown and seeing what the ministry was able to do there.
“It gives us an opportunity to serve local compassion ministries and provides an avenue for our DR, local church volunteers and community organizations to serve. Having other organizations working alongside us allows us more opportunities to witness and share the love of Christ with them,” Jones said.
In September, DR volunteers, along with volunteers from churches and from CAT Financial, came and assisted in the distribution at the MMC. “While it is not direct to the people in need, we are able to support, encourage and pray with all the organizations that are being supported and are on the front lines of serving those in need,” Jones said.
Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer Jean Canida of First Baptist Church, Mount Juliet, will coordinate the distribution effort each month.
Roger Pryor, a retired pastor and longtime Midwest Food Bank volunteer moved to Mount Juliet from Illinois about three years ago.
He and Jerry Martin, another food bank volunteer who also had relocated to the area, saw the need for another food source in Middle Tennessee.
They contacted Midwest Food Bank about the possibility of finding a distribution site in Middle Tennessee.
Midwest Food Bank agreed to a remote drop but they needed a suitable location and facility. Pryor and Martin traveled to Morristown to see an operation at a remote dropoff.
Don Owen of God’s Warehouse in Morristown and disaster relief director for Nolachucky Baptist Association, suggested that they contact Wes Jones, Pryor related.
Pryor immediately contacted Jones and learned that it was Jones’ desire to use the MMC to distribute food.
“That opened the door,” Pryor said. He described the MMC as “the perfect setup” for distributing food because it has a dock, warehouse space and equipment. “It was a gift from God,” he affirmed. B&R