The New York Times reported yesterday on a food pantry in New York's East Village, where the poor and elderly get "free food that comes with a dose of the Gospel." At five services each week, 50 men and women file into the Tompkins Square Gospel Fellowship to hear the Rev. Bill Jones preach while volunteers fill up attendees' shopping carts with food donated by the local Trader Joe's.
"People are not only hungry for food, but hungry for the word of God," Jones told the Times. "There's not just a physical need but a spiritual need."
And this form of community outreach can be effective: "When I have to sit through the service, it opens my eyes," 37-year-old single mom Asia Feliciano told the Times. "So I started reading the Bible and I asked them for a Bible, and they gave me one."
The article points out that the East Village has several other pantries that give away food without the Gospel message attached. Their food is government-financed, so it has to be distributed religion-free.
WORLD editor Marvin Olasky remembers a Christian food pantry he visited in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago, where volunteers handed out a bagel or a bag but not a Bible. He'd like to hear from readers who have witnessed the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of both types of Christian feeding programs: those that meet just physical needs by handing out free food and others that provide spiritual nourishment as well.
Please post your responses as a comment below or send them to us via email.