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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Paris United Methodist Church Food Pantry Mission Serves Logan County Patrons

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Food shortage, food insecurity, food inflationary costs…whatever term you wish to use, times are tough in today’s economy for many citizens in Logan County and throughout our nation. For several years, the Paris United Methodist Church has operated a food pantry mission that has served the people of Paris and the surrounding areas. For the past two years, the COVID pandemic, and now an inflationary economy has only amplified the need and purpose of the Methodist food pantry mission.

And for the past three years, since her retirement from over 30 years of service as a public school teacher, Elaine Best has served as the director of the Paris United Methodist Church’s food pantry mission. Each month on the second Saturday, the church distributes food from the hours of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. There is no charge to patrons for the distribution. The church funds the program through monetary donations that are given specifically to the food pantry mission. Food is purchased at a reduced cost from the Arkansas River Valley Food Bank in Fort Smith. Since the pantry can purchase food at a greatly reduced price from the Arkansas Food Bank, monetary donations are encouraged for the simple reason that the money donated will purchase more food than what people could donated directly to the program.

The Paris food pantry program has been a calling for Elaine Best; one that has been felt since before her retirement in 2019. “This need has touched my heart for many years. As a teacher, I saw many of my students eat their only meals of the day from what they received at school. Myself, along with many of my teacher colleagues, kept food in our rooms and our students knew they could stop by after school to get food to take home each day. The thought of anyone going hungry is heartbreaking, and this is my way to help. The Paris Methodist Church had this mission, and I wanted to be a small part of it. Our pastor, Judy Hall and her husband Stephen, along with fellow member, friend, and teacher colleague, Sandra Bradley, have been a tremendous help and have helped make the church’s mission a team effort for the benefit of our communities. I am deeply grateful for their help, along with all members of our congregation and others who have donated to the program to keep it operating. “

Recently, the church received a grant in the amount of $4,000 from ARVEST Bank to help fund the program. The grant, combined with donations from various church members and community patrons, has funded the program each year. “We have been blessed to receive a grant with the assistance of Tammy Moffett of ARVEST Bank. If a need has ever arisen, our church members have always come through with food and/or monetary donations.”

One thing that has been apparent over the years is that times are tough, and more and more people are turning to the pantry for much-needed assistance. It is a vital mission and service to the community, and it has been apparent that more and more people are finding the need to turn to the pantry for help. The church makes every attempt to treat people with dignity and respect, and there is no judgement of anyone who comes to the pantry for help. “Everyone has had times in their lives when they needed help. We believe that it is important to provide this service with compassion and with dignity and respect for our patrons. If someone needs help, we want them to feel comfortable to come and ask for help. That is what we are here for.”

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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