Faith communities are known for wanting to take care of the needs in their cities. Your church probably has several ongoing projects that minister to the people around you. You may help feed the hungry, clothe the poor, comfort the hurting or build homes for those who don't have adequate shelter. In fact, the main reason you may have joined your church is the good work it does in your town.
While it is certainly noble to help those outside your church, it is just as important to support those within the congregation. A pantry party can be a great way to bless a young couple, college students or anyone who could benefit from a little extra love. You may even discover other ways to expand the concept and turn it into regular community care.
Why Should You Throw a Pantry Party?
When people get married or have a baby, it is common for their friends or family to throw them a shower. Similar parties can be thrown for other major life events such as graduation or moving into a new house or apartment. The recipients are usually grateful for gifts from their registry, but a thoughtful thing their church family could do is stock their pantry.
A pantry party doesn't have to be an extravagant affair. You're not necessarily trying to finance a budding chef's truffle oil collection. This gathering is just a way to express love by taking care of part of the grocery bills, one of the frequently forgotten expenses of beginning a new phase in life.
How Do You Throw a Pantry Party?
The first thing you want to do is plan what everyone is going to buy. Start by making a list of common pantry staples:
- Grains such as rice and pasta
- Baking ingredients such as flour, sugar and baking powder
- Canned goods such as beans, tomato sauce and vegetables
- Condiments such as mustard, ketchup, oil and vinegar
- Spices such as salt, pepper or the honorees' favorite seasoning blends
It's a good idea to have people sign up for what they want to bring. That way, you don't end up with eight bags of flour and very little else. Once you have a plan, you can coordinate a time to have the party at the church when the recipients are free. If you want to add a special touch, have some of the guests bring frozen meals with heating instructions for nights when the honorees are too busy to cook.
Who Else Can You Bless With Pantry Items?
Once the people at your church start to see how happy the pantry parties make people, they're probably going to want to do more. There are several ways you can expand the concept to build a stronger faith community.
You can host a churchwide event to which everyone brings something they love to make. One family may bring jars of the strawberry jam they put up every summer. Others may bring packages of the dry ingredients of their favorite cookies with the recipe attached. The culinary student who makes her own spiced vanilla may contribute small jars that everyone can enjoy. The possibilities are as endless as the creativity of your congregation.
It's easy to identify people who are experiencing a rite of passage as those who would benefit from a pantry party, but sometimes needs go unnoticed. You can use this idea and your list of staples as a way to start a community pantry at your church for anyone who is going through a rough patch. They can get help without judgment, and you never have to worry if anyone in your church is going hungry.
A pantry party is a great way to bless people embarking on a new stage in their lives. It can also be an answer to prayer for those looking for a reason to hope again.