The Vineyard Food Assistance began in 2002 with the desire to get into the community and help those in need of food. Our first recipients lived in twelve duplexes near the downtown Omaha area. With 24 bags of groceries we simply knocked on doors and handed them a bag of food, letting them know Jesus loves them. We let them know we’d be back the following month, and as we continued coming month after month some people from neighboring communities began coming to ask for a bag of groceries, as well. Also, at that time, our church met in west Omaha and there was an area nearby with low income housing. We added this area to the grocery distribution from our church, and continued sending groceries to the area downtown. The number of bags we gave away quickly grew to 200 sets per month!
The number of people coming to the downtown location kept steadily growing even without a building, meeting in a parking lot, and having to wait in line through cold, snowy, rainy, or super hot weather! We would fill a van and suburban full of bags to meet the growing need! One Lady from the neighborhood, who received food, began to help. Her consistency opened up doors for her to build relationships with the people and she began having weekly Bible studies in her home and in others’ homes. More and more volunteers were helping, and in 2015, thirteen years since that first 24 bags were delivered, a building was found where this group could come for prayer, coffee, hot food, clothing, Bible studies; a place to get warm in cold weather and cool off in the summer.
For 2014-2016 Vineyard Food Assistance had its’ base at the Cross Training Center. Here, after delivered by a truck, the food is sorted, stored, and bagged for distribution. This is a registered food pantry in Omaha and offers more than just a bag of groceries! At our monthly food distribution, a hot meal is served including a cup of premium coffee, friendly interaction and conversation, encouraging prayer, and each home receives at least two full bags of groceries! As of March 2017 we are now holding our distribution events at our Church facility in Crossroads Mall.
On the same Saturday we have our give-away, there is also a small group taking bags of groceries to a school in South Omaha. There the families wait outside to receive their groceries, some hot food and that premium coffee! Presently we are serving about 75 people.
In the past year we were also happy to learn of a “safe house” opening in Omaha. This home will house women who are rescued from human trafficking. These women are there to receive healing and start a new life. When the house was first opened, Vineyard Food Assistance provided them with a freezer stocked with food, as well as, stocking their pantry. We continue to supply food as needed. Along with the food, we offer each woman the gift of a purse filled with various items; full sized containers of shampoo and conditioner, body wash and sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste, manicure sets, hair ties, brush and comb, band aids, personal hygiene items, etc.
We are a community of people, from all places, partnering together to provide basic needs to improve the lives of others and give dignity to all. We do this in many ways, and over the years have witnessed lives changed; being freed from hunger, freedom from addictions, physical and emotional healing, knowing God’s love and coming into relationship with Jesus! Many of these people are now helping us as part of our team!
Little did we know 15 years ago in 2002,that those 24 bags of groceries would grow to our current distribution of over 10,000 pounds of food every month (about 600 bags)!
We started with a handful of people, and then those who received wanting to help others, and it grew and grew touching thousands of lives each year! Wonder where it will go from here?