CHRISMAN – A year ago, the Rev. Nick Butcher of Chrisman Christian Church, and Trisha Brinkley began a food pantry to serve the community. It was a partnership between the church, and a previously …
CHRISMAN – A year ago, the Rev. Nick Butcher of Chrisman Christian Church, and Trisha Brinkley began a food pantry to serve the community. It was a partnership between the church, and a previously existing program which provides students with lunch over the weekends.
“We have a real need here,” said Butcher. “There are underserved communities that can’t get to places like Kansas, Paris or Georgetown.”
He also wants to have a different methodology than many other food pantries.
“We try to lavish the people that come here, there’re few limits,” Butcher said. “We have between 8,000 and 11,000 pounds of food, as well as household items. Most places put limits on how much you can take, but I said that if we’re gonna be stingy about this, we may as well not do it. And it’s important, the poverty level in this area keeps creeping up, we’re filling a big hole.”
Butcher said the effort has experienced generosity from a variety of sources. The building, the former Chrisman State Bank, was donated by Longview Capital in October 2018, though April 2019 was the first time they could use it for the pantry.
“We had multiple freezers donated by members of the community, and a member of the church donated lumber then used it to build the shelves we put the food on,” Butcher said.
The church has also had several large, anonymous donations to help with other expenses. An $18,000 project to install a new floor was payed in two check.
“One guy donated $11,000, because he said ‘I can’t take it with me,’” Butcher said. “I think that’s a good mentality to have.”
Not all donations came in the form of money or goods.
“The volunteers are the real heart and soul of this place. It’s really a church-driven community effort,” said Butcher. “We have Girl scouts come here, different teams come here. When we open the doors, sometimes there’re 20 or 30 people who come out and help.”
One volunteer who wished to remain anonymous took a moment to brag about Butcher’s children, who also frequently help at the food pantry. He added the food pantry is happy to partner with anyone who is willing to help.
Among those partnerships is a woman with an interesting role in the program. A U of I extension coordinator teaches people how to cook with the ingredients available from the pantry. She sets up a booth and offers recipes to help those receiving the food. Butcher said her help has proven important because at early food distributions some of the recipients asked how to cook the food items provided.
The pastor doesn’t believe the donations came just from a place of spirituality.
“I think that it’s a lot of people who grew up not having very much and now are blessed with more than enough. It’s just been an outpouring of generosity,” he said, adding the food pantry has been a good investment for the church. “I’ve seen a lot of people grow spiritually because of this. It’s something to vest their time in.”
Anyone desiring to help the food pantry in some way can call Chrisman Christian Church at (217)-269-3000 for more information.