No-one can miss the rise of food banks in the UK in the last couple of years. Christians and others feel conflicted about them. There is a concern to feed the hungry (certainly a Christian calling), but also a concern to ask why they have sprung up (a social justice issue). Certainly, government ministers find their existence awkward.
The Runnymede Food Bank has been running from the premises of Addlestone Methodist Church since February 2012. Run under the auspices of the Trussell Trust, and led by Beacon Church Runnymede, a few Methodist members help support it. One of them, Jo Playfoot, writes:
I became involved in the Food Bank right from the first talks with Trussell Trust members in our Church hall at Addlestone. I find it easy to relate to parents who do not know where the next meal will come from to feed their children, because there was a time in my life when I was in the same position, I know that mums go without just like I did.
Basically I am there to safeguard our church and offer cups of tea and coffee but it is a lot more than that, we also offer prayer this can be a touchy subject, so we offer to pray with people before they leave or we pray for them in our prayers at the end of the Food Bank session.
I have prayed with many in the 2 years we have been open.
Recently one lady who did not need food but needed someone to pray with her just came in when she saw our church door open.
Even last Sunday a man who had been to Food Bank for food came into church just as we were about to sing our last hymn., he looked upset and very worried so I asked him if he would like to sit quietly on his own and pray he replied “I don’t know how to pray, but will you pray for me?”
So, sitting in God’s house, I prayed for him.
You see our Food Bank does not only offer food to sustain the body, but prayer to sustain the spirit.