KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Methodist churches in East Tennessee are receiving extra support during the coronavirus crisis to supplement individual food pantries.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare was in Powell on Thursday where volunteers were busy handing out food.

It was a busy morning for members of the Powell church on Thursday. Some 56 churches throughout the Holston Conference have received aid to help provide food to families who have been without it as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteers at Powell Church are delivering food directly to those in need.
   It used to be families would go inside the building to the food pantry.  But with social distancing restrictions, food is now personally loaded into cars by volunteers.

“Doing ministry in this new reality that we are in is just a huge adjustment for everyone,” Rev. Brad Hyde said.

The new reality also means more demand for food. With thousands of people laid off unable to pay bills, having food on the table is critical.

The philanthropic Holston Foundation recently approved a $56,000 emergency grant to aid food banks.

“We are very pleased we are in a financial position to do this because our local churches, United Methodist Churches, are on the front line of helping individuals and families,” Paul Bowman, Holston Foundation Director, said. “We are funding churches all the way from Radford Virginia down to Rising Fawn Georgia which is the bounds of the Holston Conference.”

“Well we’ve got produce, salads and fruit. We have small bags of potato chips and cookies,” said Chic Jennings, a volunteer.

At Powell Church the extra financial help goes a long way in serving families.

“This money we receive from various grants and the one we receive from the Holston Foundation allows us to purchase quite a bit of food at a very low cost, that way we are able to provide more food to more people,” Rev. Hyde said.

Pat Jennings was one of half a dozen volunteers on the front line Thursday morning.

The food pantry here is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

“This has been a blessing for me.  It is an eye opener and an opportunity for us to do something for our community,” Jennings said.

This Saturday, the pantry at Powell Methodist will be open for three hours beginning at 9 a.m.

“It’s also really powerful to see how God is moving in all this. Serving others and we are continuing to do that even in the midst of all this,” Rev. Hyde said.

The food pantry at Powell Church has been around for 20 years.

Many people visiting there come not only from Knox County, but also travel from Anderson and Campbell counties.