Compassion Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit food ministry that operates out of Cornerstone Church of God in Farragut. It began after a senior member of the church had a vision for a food pantry and grew into a larger effort to feed the neediest communities in Appalachia.
Last week, Compassion Ministries focused on a different demographic – the service community of Farragut. Executive Director Robin Rolland knew that many of those who live and work in Farragut make a living at restaurants and hotels, so it was inevitable that COVID-19 closures would be a major hit to the community. She has a relationship with several restaurant owners who donate food to her organization.
“When this hit home, I got a phone call from one restaurant owner asking, ‘Could my employees come to a food pantry?’ So, we decided to help them.”
The drive-through food pantry was set up in the former Kroger parking lot. Robin estimates that 100 cars were lined up when the event began at 3 p.m. Approximately 300 cars passed through, and food was provided for over 1,000 individuals. Each family received a large food box of food, along with fresh produce and sausage donated by Wampler’s. Recipients also got a bag of canned soups and candy donated by CVS.
“A box of candy can make anyone feel better,” she says.
The day after the drive-through food pantry, the Compassion Pantry was open at Cornerstone Church of God. It opens its doors every other Thursday starting at 4 p.m., and anyone who needs food is welcome. A calendar listing all dates is available at https://compassionministries.net/index.php.
Compassion Ministries, which is made up entirely of volunteers, works with a variety of partners to feed the hungry. It purchases food from Second Harvest of East Tennessee, and TVA and United Healthcare sponsor the mobile pantries that serve mountain communities. One well-known food brand donated $359,000 worth of canned food last year. Companies support the ministry because it’s willing to take food to the areas that need it the most, she says.
The organization goes wherever it’s needed, including natural disaster sites, but they especially seek areas that “fall through the cracks.” One such place is the Frostbite community near Spring City. The level of poverty makes it look like a third world country, but it’s made up of “some of the most precious people you’ve ever encountered,” she says.
The non-profit is always seeking volunteers, and the need is only going to rise in the weeks and months ahead.
“It’s a blessing, what we get to do,” Robin says. “But we desperately need volunteers.”
Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.