Spend Yourself® Food Pantry
About the Food Pantry
The Spend Yourself® Food Pantry (formerly known as Columbia Center for Missions), provides food to hungry people in our community. Our goal is to help the hungry, and build relationships in a warm and welcoming environment. 2014 was another year of growth in the ministry--40% more client visits, 63% more food received (including Thanksgiving Share donations), and 35% more volunteer hours. God is blessing our ministry in so many ways!
Location & Hours of Operation:Saturdays, 9:30 am-12 noon
Columbia @ Crossroads
3245 Glen Carlyn Rd
Falls Church VA 22041
INFORMATION FOR CLIENTS
We do not require referrals or check IDs. Anyone is welcome to come any Saturday, between 9:30 am and noon. Clients generally receive ~3 bags of non-perishable food, plus one or two bags of bread and whatever other fresh items we have that day. People in emergency need of immediate food assistance may contact Columbia at 703-534-5700, or come by the church office at 103 W. Columbia St, Falls Church, Monday - Friday, between 10 am and 3 pm.
Food Pantry statistics
In 2014, through faithful donations of time, prayer,money and food items including cereal, canned vegetables, pasta,and rice, the Food Pantry:
- Received 291,867 pounds of food (2013: 166,074, a 63.4% increase)
- Served 7,532 households, (made up of 30,146 individuals. (2013: 5,378 households, a 42.1% increase
- Distributed 28,755 bags of food (2013: 21,467 bags of food, a 33.9% increase)
- Received the help of 635 volunteers, totaling 10,425 volunteer hours! ( in 2013: 7,729 volunteer hours, a 34.9% increase)
- Click here to view the food pantry Statistics for 2005-2014
Get InvolvedThere are various ways you can get involved:
- DONATE FOOD (SHOP & SHARE)
Check out our current needs list or our wish list to see what you can donate. Place your donations in the blue bins around the church building; or contact Betsy Pankey, BetsyPankey@aol.com to make arrangements for delivery of big donations.
- GIVE FINANCIALLY
Your donations allow the Food Pantry to purchase needed items for discounted prices from the Capital Food Area Bank and other vendors. Donate now by going to our Online Giving page. Sign up for an account and designate the Columbia Food Pantry for your contribution.
Federal employees in the National Capital Area can donate to the food pantry through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), an annual fundraising drive conducted by federal employees in their workplace each fall. To contribute directly to the pantry through the CFC, visit the campaign’s website (www.cfcnca.org) and designate charity #76306 (Spend Yourself® Food Pantry). Or contact Pastor for Missions, Greg Loewer for more information.
- PRAY FOR THE PANTRY MINISTRY
Please pray for our clients; for our volunteers; and for the continued success of the ministry.
- VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME
The primary volunteer time is on Saturdays, between 8:30am and around 12:15pm (most volunteers do not stay the entire time). Tasks include working directly with clients to provide their food; pre-packing bags of food & shelving food; & praying with clients. Non-Saturday tasks can include transporting food, receiving deliveries, and preparing the pantry for Saturday operations. All volunteers are scheduled; please contact Betsy Pankey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to volunteer.
Information for Youth Volunteers
- Youth younger than 15 are required to have a parent or other responsible adult accompany them.
- Youth 16 and older must provide a completed Food Pantry Youth Permission Form if they wish to volunteer without a parent or other responsible adult.
- A limited number of unaccompanied youth can be accommodated at the pantry each week, so make sure to sign up early.
PANTRY NOTES & QUOTES
· "Pastor Greg Lower has mentioned that the Spend Yourself Food Pantry is more than just providing a material need, food: just as important is sharing the love of Christ with each client. This was evident as I helped a client one recent Saturday. This man has had a hard life over the past several years including issues with drugs and alcohol, physical pain, homelessness, and walking away from God. He told me that after his first visit to the pantry a few weeks ago the prayer with a volunteer sustained him over the next few weeks and made him realize that God is with him. After I helped him and we prayed, he broke into tears with the knowledge of how much God loves him and thankfulness for the help he gets through this ministry." - Kent, a regular volunteer (May 2014)
·If you look around the pantry around 8:30am on a Saturday, there are more than a dozen wonderful people working really hard, to get over 3,000 pounds of prepacked food upstairs, pack, move
desserts and bread from the freezers to the shelves, pack produce, etc. - all of our regular early
bird tasks. Two years ago, most Saturdays there wouldn't have been anyone there that early; often at 9:15 there were only a handful of us. What a great example of God at work: just as we realized our need for early workers at our new location, He sent them - because it was His plan along!
· A young boy at the kid's table asked a leader, "What would you get if you were rich?" She said she didn't know, and asked him the same question. His response was:"food"
· “You are all angels!” – a client of several years who is now in remission from prostate cancer. He's now able to work part-time, but still needs a helping hand, which we are happy to give.
· "I just want to thank you, not just for the food, but for all the love you've shown us for all these years. It means so much."
· "A regular client who had missed the previous Saturday: "Half of the joy of coming here is talking to all of you and catching up on our lives."
· "I've been to quite a few food banks, and this one is by far the best."
· Pantry Flood/God at Work: During torrential rains late in the day on October 14, a lot of water, mud, and leaves poured through a window and into the pantry. Normally, this would have been discovered Saturday morning, and we would have been unable to operate. But God already had a long chain of circumstances planned out, resulting in members of the Crossroads Hispanic congregation discovering the flood late Friday night. They worked until past 1am, and we were able to function normally! The most moving link in the chain is that when a homeless man approached at 11pm asking for food, a volunteer came back into the building to find something for him, and discovered the flood. Her faithfulness resulted in a major blessing for the ministry!
. We served a record total of 912 families during November, an amazing month. We saw evidence every day of God at work to smooth the path.
. A 10th grader who volunteers at the pantry wrote the following in a school essay: " Just before a client leaves, a volunteer prays with the client, should the client want this. Interestingly, not once in my volunteering has someone refused to pray. As one prays, sometimes the client will pray simultaneously in another language, and though the language barrier frequently is in the way there is a kind of " electric circle ", not unlike that in the Scarlet Letter, formed. In this, one becomes conscious of something far greater than you or your imagination even. That " something " is neither a thought nor a feeling-- it is love, it is still and calm, it is satisfaction in providing a basic need, and yet you are not proud in yourself for doing so. It is something too wonderful for words to attest. After much searching, I concluded: everyone should experience this."
. A regular Volunteer who is a cancer survivor shared this: " after that, I felt God telling me, you have some more time - use it to serve others."
. One of Columbia's WorldFriends ESOL teachers was given a gift card by her students for Valentine's Day. She gave it to the pantry, saying the clients need it more than she does.
. An 8 year old who came to the pantry with her Brownie Troop for a tour was inspired to make bracelets to sell at a craft fair to raise money to buy food for the pantry.