Serving A Food Desert During COVID-19
Pastors Ulises & Reyna Bello share their church's story of serving in a food desert in Saint Paul, MN during the pandemic.
Ulises & Reyna Bello
Pastors, La Viña St. Paul (St. Paul, MN)
La Viña Saint Paul was established to not only serve the spiritual needs of our communities in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but also the physical needs of our at-risk neighbors. In fact, we started a food shelf prior to opening our church plant!
In 2017 our location had the highest poverty and lowest income levels in the state, which is when we first started meeting with our launch team. This trend continued into the pandemic and we found ourselves in a more concentrated food desert; continuing to serve the food-insecure through different means. A large part of our diverse service population is multiethnic, unemployed or under-employed.
What stands out to me, is that many of our hundreds of food shelf participants also consider our food distributions as a form of church service.
Eddie (name changed) told me, “This is where I come to receive groceries, talk about some of my issues and I get prayed for! I appreciate that the people here actually care about me and my family.”
We also heard, “I can’t make Sundays for church because of work. I think the food shelf is my church.”
La Viña Saint Paul has continued serving the public through the pandemic by changing our food distributions from an inside choice method to a drive-up service in our parking lot.
(Photo By La Viña Saint Paul)
Now our parking lot volunteers are also ministry hands and feet of the Holy Spirit.
Our volunteer force has become an extension of the communities we serve and includes people of many different spiritual walks and ethnicities. This became a ministry target as our church volunteers live out John 17 showing our love for each other as a powerful statement to the world.
We will continue to expand His Kingdom through compassionate services and building a strong community of faith!
In His Name,
Pastors Ulises & Reyna Bello