'It has been a faith stretching decision'
Carol Knight explains how and why her Baptist church's community fridge is still running - and how praying each day for daily bread has taken on a new perspective
Lockdown = shutdown. That was certainly my first reaction, but as we saw service after service close in Peterborough we asked ourselves: 'Who was going to feed those in food poverty? Those workers on zero hours contracts who fell through the cracks, how were families with children at home going to eat while they waited for Universal Credit to arrive?'
The Millfield Community Fridge has been in operation for two years now. The photo to the right shows how it used to look before the lockdown. We had good relationships with local retailers, and all of a sudden as panic buying ended these retailers had massive overstocks – especially of fruit, vegetables and bread. Cafes and restaurants called us up as they shut down - please would we go and collect their stock?
What should we do? Many of our regular volunteers were in the category of needing to self-isolate. How would we cope? We looked at the faces of those who were coming to collect essential supplies and we saw something. People were hungry, there was a desperation. Our decision was made: we were going to stay open.
It has been a faith stretching decision. As schools, the prison, a woman’s refuge, a children’s charity and a drug and alcohol recovery service all contacted me to ask if we could do food parcels for their clients, I wondered where the food was going to come from. Praying each day for ‘our daily bread’ took on a new perspective. Trusting God that we would have enough ‘manna’ for the 100 or more people who were queuing at a safe distance. Not worrying about today because tomorrow had enough anxieties of its own.
New volunteers who all lived within a few minutes’ walk of the church materialised, food has turned up from unexpected sources, and we have even received a few financial grants. We have been able to increase the number of days our church is serving the Community.
For such a time as this, the Millfield Community Fridge is feeding the hungry. Church = shut? Not at all!
Carol Knight is a minister at Open Door Baptist Church in Peterborough
The Millfield Community Fridge operates from the church. It is open each weekday between 10am and 12noon. It receives good quality surplus food from supermarket, other food businesses and individuals, and normally give out bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and other goodies.
Previously it used to open three days a week and serve 60 people per day. Now it is helping to feed 100 people each day, operating from a table outside the church hall.
The top picture shows volunteer Ria Ferreday Brown, a member of the congregation. The second picture shows Carol and the community fridge before the lockdown.