PEACE Farm’s First Harvest

12/28/2017 .
Saddleback Church

It’s that time of year, when Saddleback’s Food Pantry is wrapping up its annual Holiday Food Drive to assist people in need. In just eight years, the Food Pantry has provided a week’s worth of food to over 70,000 families and helped lead 2,100 people to Christ.

These life-changing accomplishments could not have happened without the generous contributions of our church family. In order to continue God’s work in this ministry, all of our campuses were invited to participate in the annual Holiday Food Drive from November 19 to December 3.

Across all of our campuses, collection barrels were available as convenient drop-off points for our members. The food was then collected and loaded onto pallets for storage at our warehouse. Each week during the Food Drive, approximately 12 barrels were collected and delivered to our Lake Forest center. Eventually, items will be sorted and distributed to our eight Food Pantries.

According to Steve Mahnke, Director of Saddleback Food Pantries, the majority of items came from private food donations and individual small groups and ministries. “This year, some people hosted their own food drives at schools, home, and work,” he says. “Saddleback’s Women's Ministry held a food drive during their Monday night Bible study, Women in the Word. Out of all of our ministries and campuses, they brought in the most donations with 12 pallets of food.”

One key aspect of the Holiday Food Drive is providing Thanksgiving meals to families in our community. This year, our Food Pantry gave out 1,000 turkeys at our Lake Forest campus and other Food Pantries. As a powerful impetus for growth, Food Pantries not only draw in people from the community, but they also reach more lives for Christ.

Getting in on the spirit of generosity are four Costco® stores that have partnered with Saddleback’s Food Pantry. Six days a week, Costco stores in San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, and Irvine deliver five to six pallets of unsellable items with slightly damaged packaging. This near-daily gift has dramatically increased the amount of products in our eight Food Pantries.

Included in the bounty are artisan breads, enough for each family to receive up to four loaves per visit. The first harvest recently collected from Saddleback’s PEACE Farm has also boosted the inventory. In one single yield, volunteers collected enough leaf lettuce to feed 40 families.

“We harvested on Saturday and delivered to families on Tuesday,” says Steve. “You can’t find lettuce that fresh in the store. Next will be carrots, broccoli, radishes, and onions — all of which are still in the growth cycle.”

It’s not just about the food, but also about the opportunity to pour into the lives of struggling families. It’s a chance to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ. To accomplish this mission, we now need more volunteers to help organize and distribute what has been given.

“There are times throughout the year when we start to run short on some items,” Steve explains. “What this Food Drive does is help bump up that number and assure that families in need get a full week’s worth of food. In the process, our own members become ministers and grow in community with others who are serving.”

To help meet our Daring Faith “A” goal of assisting people in need, contact foodpantry@saddleback.com.