A community effort to 'feed your neighbor'

The Rev. Olivia Earlywine, with Monroe City United Methodist Church, and Monroe County NECAC Coordinator Maggie Middleton, stock food items in the new “Feed Your Neighbor” 24-hour food pantry at the rear of the church at 218 Catherine Street in Monroe City, Mo. Earlywine is working with her neighbors at the Monroe City Christian Church across the street to keep the pantry filled with food, and NECAC plans to set a pantry up in county in its coverage area.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — A partnership between two neighboring churches and an ongoing effort by North East Community Action Corporation to fight food insecurity in the area brought a new “Feed Your Neighbor” food pantry box to the grassy area at the rear of Monroe City United Methodist Church at 218 Catherine Street on Friday morning.

Maggie Middleton, Monroe County NECAC Coordinator, said NECAC is setting up the 24-hour food pantry boxes, funded by Community Services Block Grants through CARES Act funding and stocked with food and personal hygiene items. NECAC’s Weatherization Department staff built the food pantry box, and NECAC representatives worked with the Rev. Olivia Earlywine of Monroe City United Methodist Church as she establishing community connections. Earlywine is partnering with her neighbors across the street at Monroe Christian Church to keep the 24-hour pantry box stocked with food.

“It’s awesome. We do a lot of things together. Our ministries are very compatible, and our church theology is close,” Earlywine said.

NECAC Public Relations Officer Brent Engel noted the food pantry was designed to supplement existing food services and meet the need for food present throughout the organization’s 12-county area. The plan is to set up a “Feed Your Neighbor” food pantry at County Service Centers in each county. So far, there are pantries in Warren, Lewis and Monroe counties. Six more are currently in the works, including one for Ralls County.

Engel encouraged anyone who has a location where they would like to partner with NECAC for an additional “Feed Your Neighbor” food pantry to call NECAC Community Services at 573-324-6633. Engel said the need for food is ever-present, along with compassion and community members coming together.

“There’s definitely a need, but we also know that there are definitely people who are willing to help, because we see that in all of our counties,” Engel said. “Monroe City is well-known for being very generous, and I expect that to help us fill that on a regular basis.”

Earlywine expressed her joy for the chance to make an impact in the community.

“We’re thrilled with our location and the fact that we can partner with the Christian Church and serve the part of the community that we’re in,” Earlywine said.

People can come by the “Feed Your Neigbor” food pantry at any time to pick up a necessity or donate one, and more information is available by calling the Monroe County NECAC Service Center at 660-327-4110.

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