Saying no to hunger


Linda L. Anderson, KP News

There are many opportunities for food assistance and free meals on the Key Peninsula. Several local organizations and numerous volunteers open their hearts to residents in need of help. Among them are the Key Peninsula Community Services and Food Bank (known to many as Community House), which offers food, meals and social services.

A typical M&M Ministry gathering has an abundance of people — and of food given away. Photo courtesy Diane Johnson

M&M Ministry

With a desire to meet the needs of people on the Key Peninsula, Howard and Diane Johnson met with the board of Lakebay Community Church four years ago and began the M&M Ministry. The acronym stands for “mingle and minister,” and that is exactly what goes on every Thursday at 3 p.m.

People from the community gather in the Fellowship Hall of LCC for snacks and socializing. Howard Johnson speaks before the group, which often numbers 35 to 45, and prays before they glean from the bounty set out for them.

In order to provide for the needs of those who come, Johnson makes four “runs” per week, gathering canned goods, produce and toiletry items donated by individuals and business on and off the Key Peninsula. Among those who contribute are Larry and Sharon Wingard of Shiloh Farms in Lakebay, F.I.S.H., Chad Roy and Scott Teodoro from Harbor Greens in Gig Harbor and anonymous donors.

“God supplies bountifully every week,” Diane Johnson says. “Often we have leftovers, which we are able to share with the Community House in Home, as well as the food programs of other Peninsula churches.”

Genevieve Ozman (pictured with her daughter, Melissa) gives a free haircut to Ann Carter, who works hard in the M&M kitchen. Ozman and Eva Estacio donate time each month to give free hair cuts on the second Thursday of every month as part of the M&M’s outreach. Photo courtesy Diane Johnson

M&M offers free haircuts once a month, supplies food baskets at the holidays and sponsors several families at Christmas with gifts and food. From time to time they provide school supplies and other ancillary needs to local families. Once or twice a year, usually in the fall, M&M is able to offer fresh salmon from the local hatchery. “Last year, we were able to bless people with nearly 200 salmon. It was exciting,” Howard says.

Those who come for help on Thursdays often times help with setup and cleanup. The Johnsons say they feel “blessed with a hard-working team of people who take great pleasure in blessing others week after week: Robert and Anna Lee, Anne Carter, Denise Roswell, Peggy Cook, Marguerite Bussard and Anne Chadwick.”

A shelter in time of storm

The mission statement of the Key Peninsula Lutheran Church reads: “Through God’s love and grace we commit ourselves to spiritual growth and offer our resources to those in need.” That is also how church members offer themselves in service to the community.

On the first, third and fourth Saturdays of each month, the doors of McColley Hall swing wide to welcome the community to partake in a delicious meal and experience friendly conversation with friends and neighbors. Two of the Saturdays offer a warm and filling breakfast and endless coffee from 9 to 10:30 a.m., and the other Saturday brings  dinner beginning at 3 p.m. The meals are a gift from KPLC to the community.

Approximately 40 people from the church comprise three cooking teams, which take turns preparing the meals. “We have a good time,” says Kay Pinter. “This whole ministry has been an amazing process. Two years ago, after McColley Hall was built, someone donated a large sum of money to have the commercial kitchen finished.”

The first breakfast had about 15 people in attendance. The second drew about 20, and it has skyrocketed from there. The church now maintains a large budget for this ministry, which grew with funds from donations of other churches and grants from The Geneva Foundation, Sheeney Foundation, Evangelical Lutheran Church and individuals and businesses in the community.

As the ministry grew, McColley Hall became a Red Cross-approved emergency shelter. During the storm and power outage last year, KPLC was able to feed and house many storm victims. “People came from Gig Harbor churches to help,” say the Reverend Heinz Malon, who came to serve the church just one month before. “People who came for help in turn helped out in the kitchen and in caring for their neighbors. It was a blessing.”

Church member Barbara Bramhall says, “Hugs are as important as food. We have people who come just to be where there are other people. They are lonely and need to visit. Fellowship is a large part of our ministry here. No cost. No pressure. Just love and food and conversation.”

More information

The Community Meals Program at KP Lutheran Church plans to host a Thanksgiving dinner. For details about the meals, special events or to volunteer call Julie Johnson, church secretary, at 884-3312. If you’re interested in helping the M&M Ministry or would like information, contact Diane Johnson at 884-3659.

Harvest Share is another food ministry, overseen by Tink Williams and a group of helpers. People gather every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Lakebay Community Church on Cornwall Road to glean food and fellowship. All members of the community are welcome. For information, call Williams at 884-5940 or Bonnie Graddon at 884-4824.[/box]