MIDDLETOWN – A Middletown woman heeds God’s call in establishing a food pantry at a local church.
Although community outreach has never been her field of ministry or area of expertise, Graceway Community Church member Patti Gonsalves was struck with an idea in early 2021 that she could not ignore.
“Graceway needs a food pantry,” she thought. At the time, the world was in the middle of a pandemic: churches were in lock-down, people were losing their jobs, and each day the death toll rose. It was not considered an ideal time to begin a new project.
But Gonsalves felt strongly that she was receiving a message.
“It had to have been God,” she said.
Admittedly more comfortable working in administration, teaching and intercessory prayer, she nevertheless chose to respect the recurring idea. Gonsalves approached Graceway’s Pastor Ed Pichette. Prayer and input from Graceway’s elders led to approval and creation of the Graceway Food Pantry.
Located at Graceway Church, 215 Forest Avenue, Middletown, the Food Pantry supports the communities of Middletown, Portsmouth and Newport. A tangible response to the growth of food insecurity in the State of Rhode Island, the Food Pantry shows hands-on efforts to reach out to families and individuals that need support.
“COVID hit Aquidneck Island hard, for many, for the first time in their lives, they are struggling financially. One of those struggles often includes food insecurity. We can help with that,” she said.
Studies of the U.S. Census Bureau show that pre-COVID, Rhode Island food banks regularly serviced 54,000 individuals. In December of 2020, that number rose to 68,000.
The Graceway Food Pantry provides food staples as well as toiletries and cleaning supplies. The Pantry is currently open from 4-6 p.m. each Friday with convenient parking at Graceway Church.
Public transportation travels both East and West Main Road of Middletown with stops at Forest Avenue. The church is a 10-15 minute walk from the main roads.
For additional information, please contact Patti Gonsalves at 401-662-5201.