South Houston Church Gives it all Away One Truckload at a Time
By Lindsay Peyton
League City UMC regularly transforms into a food distribution center, opening its doors to Galveston County Food Bank’s mobile operations. Volunteers from the church have stepped up to help with this cause for the past seven years. Together, they give away 40 pounds of food to each person, serving 100 to 300 families each time the food truck appears.
Longtime church member Terry Worthy took over the effort a year after Lucy and Frank Harvel got it going in 2012. The couple moved away, but the need persisted.
“Once it got started, no one wanted to see it stop,” Worthy said. “It was hard to find someone to step in, so I thought I’d try it for a while.”
She’s been at the driving wheel ever since. Each time the truck comes, the church pays $200 to cover transportation. The large, refrigerated semi pulls into the driveway twice a month.
“We set up tables and unload the truck,” Worthy said. “Then the clients come.”
Now that League City UMC has a new location, individuals receive their food in an air-conditioned gym, instead of standing outside.
“They don’t have to have any proof of need to get food,” Worthy said.
Instead, distribution follows zip codes, provided on the clients’ identifications when they register. Everyone receives equal amounts of food. Mostly, the truck provides produce for the clients, who are often homeless or sick.
There are porters available to take items for the elderly or disabled clients to their cars. Other volunteers handle the parking and set up chairs for waiting individuals.
“It runs like clockwork,” Worthy said. “We’ve been doing it long enough.”
The clients become part of the family, she explained. When one is missing, everyone worries.
“There is definitely a need here,” Worthy said. “There are a high number of people in need of food in our county.”
She explained that League City UMC has both sufficient space and a central location – making it an ideal spot for the food distribution program.
At the same time, Worthy explained that the congregation has a chance to shine when the food truck rolls in to the parking lot.
“It’s definitely a mission for the church,” she said. “There’s a camaraderie that comes with volunteering. It’s just a blessing to be able to help. Once people come to volunteer, they come back.”
About 50 individuals help out with the effort each time, Worthy added. Last year, 217 people registered to volunteer, tallying 2,918 volunteer hours.
In addition, the community around the church supports the distribution and provides funding to keep it going. A nearby Mormon missionary group also regularly attends to lend a helping hand.
Perhaps most noteworthy, clients are treated with compassion and respect. “Our clients tell us that this is one of the friendliest and easiest sites for them,” Worthy said. “They feel important when they come. They don’t have to be ashamed of being here.”
Cyndy Watkins helps coordinate the effort. Worthy’s husband Sid sets up chairs and tables each time.
“It’s not easy to volunteer at the truck,” Worthy said. “It’s hot, and it’s hard. Sometimes, it’s cold and wet. But it’s definitely been a good thing for our church, and our clients are very thankful and appreciative. That makes all the difference.”