Editor's Note – The following is a report which was sent to Second Harvest Food Bank in May 2014 to inform them of the use OUMC is making of some of the food they deliver to us twice each month.
Agape Café is a ministry of Orangethorpe United Methodist Church that feeds homeless and less fortunate guests each Sunday morning in our Fellowship Hall at 7:30am. It is a ministry that has been growing for three years that started out feeding burritos and coffee to homeless under the 91/5 freeway overpass. At present we serve between 80 and 110 guests depending on the Sunday and how far it is away from them getting any government assistance.
One of our two pastors will come to serve communion, and usually one of our team gives a message. We sit and eat with our guests and learn their stories and share their journey. We give away clothing and toiletries when available, gifts at Christmas, and celebrate monthly birthdays. Our guests know that they are loved and cherished and are given a hug every Sunday if they will accept it. If we forget to pray because we have gotten busy, they are quick to remind us. I would say that we have our own little community church right there in Fellowship Hall.
Although the major portion of our guests are homeless, some who have a home or place to live – whether it is a home or subsidized housing – just can't make ends meet until the first of the month.
Our guests get cereal, milk, juice, coffee and tea, sometimes hot chocolate. Then they are served the main meal at their tables by our compassionate dedicated team who has been preparing the meal since 6:00 am in our kitchen. While the menu varies with regard to what food we are able to secure, it usually consists of eggs, some sort of potatoes, and combinations of waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, sausages, chorizo, sometimes fruit – whatever is on sale.
Agape Café is so blessed with food from Second Harvest when it comes each first and third Saturday morning. The potatoes are the best in the world. Many times we get juice packages; sometimes vegetables, although our guests don't like their veggies, no matter how we prepare them. We are thankful when we are able to receive the delicious fruit – pears, apples, oranges, etc. We had some boxes of rice-a-roni and stove top stuffing from a couple of Second Harvest events; and one day with an abundance of cabbages, we tried our hand at making cabbage rolls for breakfast using those products and purchasing the meat – yes, we did, and they loved it. And they love the snacks, crackers and cookies.
At one point, we made several trips to Irvine to pick up goods which included about 18 cans of sausage gravy which lasted us for a long time, boxes of hash browns and milk, but it's a bit far for any of us who don't work to travel. The gentleman who picked up the donations works in Irvine, but had nowhere to store perishables until he returned home or to the church.
So we are making do with what we obtain on Saturday morning after all the guests who stand in line are served one time.
Thank you, Second Harvest, for helping us make sure that our monthly budget of $300 goes just a little further. We so appreciate your ministry to see that the less fortunate and homeless are fed whether they stand in line on a Saturday morning, or receive the food which we so joyfully prepare on Sunday morning. Your products are fresh and delicious and we are proud to be a part of that ministry. While we know that it is early, we would love for anyone to stop by on a Sunday morning to see what we do. We are usually at the Fellowship Hall at 6am and finished by 9am. Although we have had people who come late, we never turn anyone away even though there may be only cereal or a frozen entre left – they do come in handy.
We have passionate guests who have taken it upon themselves to come early and help set up tables, chairs and set the tables. They are a blessing to us as we hope we are to them. Praise God for this opportunity to serve.
Serving Up Agape Love
Sharyl Lewis, Co-coordinator