‘Brotherly and sisterly’

Anniston church gives out free fruit, vegetables

Friendship Food Giveaway

The Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Anniston received a grant from a farm to feed the community. Members and volunteers team up to give away boxes of produce to those in need.

Friday was a busy day for Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Anniston. Large stacks of boxes stood around 5 feet tall in the parking lot, and members and volunteers stood ready to give them to anyone who drove by.

Carlton Phillips, the church’s pastor, said about 30,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables were in those boxes and it was all for anyone who needed it. Around 11 a.m., he said, the church had already given away 5,000 pounds of food.

“Hunger is something that’s for everybody,” Phillips said. “I don’t care who you are ... God wants us to be brotherly and sisterly.”

According to Phillips, the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He said the convention reached out to a representative from each county to give out the food.

“We got in on it and got as many pounds as we could get to help the community, irregardless of their race, or church or anything,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the grant was part of the USDA’s efforts to provide relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid spreading the virus, Phillips said, all volunteers were required to wear masks, and hand sanitizer was onsite for anyone to use.

He said the church planned to host events like this every Friday for the next five weeks.

Philips said community members had been getting boxes since 7 a.m. that morning, and churches were slated to get food for their congregations around noon. He said he planned to give people a box each and up to 50 boxes to churches.

“Every church we could possibly bless could come and get one,” Phillips said.

Daniel Hughes, the executive director of Seven Springs Ministries, said charities see a lot of chips and cookies get donated, but it’s rare that those in need have food with nutritional value. Seven Springs lent the church several volunteers and a forklift.

“I’m just really impressed with food that hasn’t been processed being accessible,” Hughes said

Marsha Carter, a church member, said she needed the food to feed her family. She said she was grateful for the church’s efforts as volunteers loaded a few boxes into the trunk of her beige SUV.

“I feel wonderful, excited and blessed,” Carter said. “It’ll help.”

Chineka Heard, a member of the Tree of Life Outreach Ministry of Anniston, said her church planned to spread that food out in their building, “right up the street.”

It’s going to help us reach out to those in the community as well as to our members,” Heard said.

During the pandemic, Phillips said, many locals found themselves without jobs, without money or stuck at home. He said it was important for them to know someone cares for them.

“At this time, they need to see togetherness, they need to see love, they need hope,” Phillips said.