In light of Covid-19, Molong – a small town in the Central West region of NSW – is responding to local need. Julie Spencer from Molong Baptist Church (lead by Julie’s husband, pastor Wayne Spencer), shares the story of ‘Molong’s Pantry’…
“In late March, I received a phone call from a member of our local community who had been thinking about what was to unfold as Covid-19 spread,” Julie explains. “She wanted support in making a network that supports our town in the days, weeks, and months ahead. It was obvious that she had done a lot of research. My response was ‘yes, I would love to help and see this happen’…But I woke up the next morning thinking about how huge the project was that I had just agreed to – unsure that I had the skills, knowledge, or even the energy to help make this happen!”
As the days progressed, key community members agreed to support this project. “We had a Zoom meeting where we established the vision, and everyone shared how the part of the community that they were involved in could help. From this, we formed a group called Cabonne Mutual Aid which has a telephone number that anyone in the community can call and ask for help, offer to give help, or just seek and connect for chat,” Julie describes. “There was also a dream for a food pantry type service, with emergency hampers that our community could access. The thought was always that it could happen from our empty church building, but that the community group we started would own/run it.”
Thus, the idea for Molong’s Pantry was born. Excited, Julie jumped into research on this type of service. However, not everything she learnt was uplifting. “It was about this time that I realised we could not have a community group use our building rent free without a governing body that held public liability. So I could not open the church building for this. It seemed we would take one step forward and two steps back! The only way I could see forward was if the church solely owned and was responsible for running the pantry alongside our community group.” But, Julie didn’t give up. “I went back to the church leadership team with a question: is this something that we as a church want to support? Thankfully, the church leadership decided that they too wanted to see this happen, and offered to move some cash in our church budget to help make this happen!”
As a ministry of Molong District Baptist Church, Molong’s Pantry officially opened their doors to Molong (and surrounding villages) on May 2nd – where for a $10.00 donation, people could receive a basket containing a bag of potatoes, a frozen chicken, a frozen meat, plus whatever other groceries they could fit. The produce is mainly sourced from surplus stock from major food chains, helping lower food wastage, and the money received from sales goes towards purchasing more food.
Watch the walk-through here.
Locals responded extremely well, with some even reaching out on social media to find out how they can donate money towards the costs involved, or pay a couple baskets forward for those who need it. Even businesses have gotten involved, with one printing ‘Molong’s Pantry’ aprons for the pantry volunteers, one donating hand sanitiser to help keep everyone safe, and one helping transport a brand new chest freezer from Sydney to Molong.
The low-cost pantry is now open to all twice a week, stocking things like cereal, tea bags, eggs, muesli bars, sauces, spreads, dried pasta, flours, boxed milk, canned food, bottled water, toiletries and more. Julie says, “I am so grateful for everyone who has spoken with me over the last month as we have been exploring this new ministry for our community. And I am so grateful that we have a heavenly Father who also cares, and is walking beside us as we show love to others.”