Six years ago, Boonton United Methodist Church’s lay leader Annette Thurkauf felt a nudge by the Holy Spirit to start a food pantry to meet a real need in the community: children going to bed hungry. Since then the Loaves and Fishes food pantry has grown, and under a recent expansion, has moved to new housing in a bigger space at the First Presbyterian Church of Boonton.
Mayor Matthew DiLauri inaugurated the new site at a ribbon-cutting attended by members of both churches and the community. “Not only is it the food that will make a difference in people’s lives here but your willingness to open your hearts to those people in need,” he said.
When first opened, the food pantry served about a dozen families a week, and at the end of its six-year tenure at Boonton UMC, it was helping upwards of 26 food insecure families weekly. “Today, our Loaves and Fishes food pantry has joined forces with the First Presbyterian Church and we now help supplement 40 families every week,” reported Thurkauf, preaching at Boonton UMC this past Pentecost Sunday.
Thurkauf’s story of heeding the Holy Spirit’s call was a fitting theme for Pentecost. Hers was the final sermon in a series with the theme: “Just Keep Breathing…in Times of Suffering.” She asked the congregation to consider some of the other ways they can help relieve the suffering, telling them “I truly believe that this is what Jesus was trying to teach us… to love one another, to relieve the suffering and be brothers and sisters to each other.”
The pantry also provides fresh produce from Donaldson Farms in Hackettstown, as well as canned goods and diapers. Boonton UMC’s garden also contributes to the pantry during the summer. Marilyn Ward, mission elder at First Presbyterian, stated that “Annette was right with us from the beginning… she has all kinds of experience that she brings here, and I think it’s just been an absolutely ideal partnership between the two churches.”
“We have many people involved in this project,” Thurkauf acknowledged, “And it warms my heart to know that two churches from two different denominations have joined together to help the less fortunate.”
The food pantry is open to all those with food insecurities two days a week, on Wednesday from 4:00-6:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:00-11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Boonton, 513 Birch St.
More information, including a list of high-need items and how to support the Loaves and Fishes ministry, can be found at www.boontonfoodpantry.org.