A beat-up, black pickup truck pulled up to the Bank Street Food Bank at Shawnee Baptist Church in the Portland neighborhood Friday, May 16. The young couple inside looked even more road-worn than the truck.
Southeast member Heather Satterfield welcomed them to the drive-through food bank that started as an idea last Christmas Day.
After opening Christmas presents, Heather’s husband, Stephen, drove through the Portland Community, where he had visited for business on a bitter cold day.
That day was about more than business. Stephen talked with a number of homeless men and women and saw that none had gloves or hats. He thought they were probably hungry. None complained or asked for anything.
“I went back on Christmas Day to see the community because I felt people in the area needed some help,” Stephen said. “Everyone has struggles. Food shouldn’t be one of them.”
Stephen thought of stocking a food pantry in the community where people could get good food and fresh bread, talk with someone who cares about their situation, let them know about other resources in the community and about a kind God who sees them.
On that drive through Portland, Stephen noticed Shawnee Baptist Church, a stately church on Bank Street with a 40-year history in the community. He called Pastor Steve Frost about starting a food bank, and the door to partnership opened.
“We’ve been trying to get a food bank for a couple of years,” Frost said. “We get requests for help all the time.”
So, the Bank Street Food Bank became more than a Christmas Day idea. Frost gave up his office to store food. Tim Smith, creative pastor at Shawnee Baptist, posted signs letting people in the community know the food bank would be open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Saturdays, volunteers take food baskets to people in the community who are not able to leave their homes.
Smith calls it “outreach on steroids.”
The day before Derby Day, Stephen grilled hamburgers and hot dogs in the parking lot at the church.
“We had a great crowd,” he said. “We gave away about 1,000 pounds of food. People are getting to know we’re there. We got to meet new people and see those who have come before. We want to get to know them better.”
Frost sees the food bank as an answer to prayer.
“We are excited about how the Lord will use this much needed ministry in the Portland area,” he said. “We are praying for the opportunity to meet both physical and spiritual needs. God’s timing and direction in the food bank startup has been an evident answer to our prayers.”
The Satterfields have no doubt they are supposed to be at the Bank Street Food Pantry. They are getting to know other ministries in the community so they can refer clients to people who can help with legal issues, homelessness, domestic violence and housing.
“Our goal is to love on these people,” Heather said. “We always try to get to know them better and ask if we can pray for them.”