LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Something as simple as a free meal can be life-changing. Through the pandemic, it has become evident just how many people are relying on the kindness of others to make ends meet.
God's Pantry Food Bank says they have seen demand for their services go up 30%, forcing feeding programs across the region to step up. A Lexington church has done just that, and they are bringing smiles to faces and nourishment to the community.
Grace Baptist Church in Lexington is not the biggest church in town, but they are making a huge impact.
"We have a good thing going. It's a good system, and we have a lot of people getting a lot of food, so that's good, " said Pastor Steve Price.
Pastor Steve Price said their Feed The Hungry program started back in 1995. A partnership with God's Pantry and Glean Kentucky, they typically would serve hot meals on Mondays and sack lunches on Thursdays, but life during COVID-19 looks a little different. Now, twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from 2:30-4:30, people line up to receive food through a window.
Price said, "We're so honored. We've been able to keep going all the way through COVID, and we're so blessed to have been able to do that."
Price said they saw their demand spike when the pandemic began, and they continue to hand out about 25,000 pounds of food every month.
Trudy Harberson is one of the many volunteers that keep the program going. She and her husband pick up fresh, nourishing food each week from area stores, food that otherwise might go to waste.
Harberson said, "If we were not there to pick up these donations of food, they would be thrown away, and it's wonderful stuff. Wonderful stuff."
Harberson said it is a gratifying experience. Growing up, she said her family didn't have the easiest time, so seeing the smiles on people's faces is rewarding.
"Sometimes we've even heard them say they wouldn't know what they would've done if we hadn't had been here, " Harberson said.
Pastor Steve Price said he is hopeful they can continue this outreach in its original form soon, but for now, he said it is a blessing to do it at all.
"We're all just one big family, and we want to help each other, and that's a beautiful thing."
Grace Baptist Church is located at 811 Bryan Avenue in Lexington. For questions, to donate, or volunteer, call (859) 252-1119.