Schuyler Ministerial Association installs food box to help hungry

November 16, 2018

The Schuyler Ministerial Association is aiming to feed the hungry by putting up a box filled with food available to the public.

“It will always be there for people to take,” said The Rev. Bill Mattfeld, president of the Schuyler Ministerial Association and pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Dennis Wheeler, head pastor of United Methodist Church, said he and Art Lindberg, owner of Schuyler Home and Building Supply, installed the box that resembles a little house at the parking lot of Divine Mercy Parish, 308 W 10th St. Since the box is waterproof, Wheeler said products shouldn’t be affected by the elements.

People, at any given time, can collect food items that don’t require refrigeration and preparation like soup, macaroni and cheese and boxed pasta.

“It’s just a community way of helping those in need,” said Wheeler, noting the idea was generated after he saw a similar box sitting outside a Columbus church.

This is just one of many Wheeler’s contributions to the community. He is also involved in TeamMates mentoring program and the Columbus Habitat for Humanity-Schuyler Extension, a nonprofit organization working toward its vision of building affordable housing.

Because the Colfax County Pantry only operates from 1-3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays inside Columbus Middle School, officials wanted to fill the weekend void, as well as provide a more immediate service.

Wheeler said the process of getting food from the pantry can be difficult for some. As a safety precaution, he said only pastors are allowed to enter the school to collect food for distribution. So, people wanting food have to make an appointment with a pastor, which can be time-consuming, he added.

During tough situations, Wheeler said there are people who don’t have access to phones or can’t afford to wait for food. Therefore, he said the box provides the opportunity for people to help themselves, especially when they can’t get in contact with a pastor.

Wheeler said disaster can strike at any moment, so it’s important to provide more services to accommodate those in need.

Just like the pantry, churches encompassing the Association like Divine Mercy Parish, Christ United Methodist, First Presbyterian, Trinity Lutheran and St. John Lutheran are taking turns on a monthly basis managing the box by ensuring it’s stocked with food on a daily basis.

Mattfeld said area pastors are still coming up with a unified system to manage the box since it’s still in its experimental stage.

However, Wheeler said he’s feeling optimistic moving forward, noting he’s confident that the box will be well maintained in the community.

Those wanting to donate food for the box are encouraged to drop off their items at area churches.

“My understanding of giving is that we just give, and you can’t manage giving,” Wheeler said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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