The mission hasn’t changed but the location has. And this one has a lot more space and opportunity to grow.
The Christian Food Mission is now in a 9,000-square-foot building at 2507 Moose Dr. — the old Moose Lodge — after serving the community for 35 years from a cramped 3,000-square-foot facility on Chantilly Street.
“We were stumbling over each other at the old place,” founder Robert Smith said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. “There’s so much more floor space here. We can have office space, more parking …”
And with that, there could be more volunteers and more meals being served, he said. The Christian Food Mission already has about 70 volunteers who serve 200 to 220 meals five days per week. That’s been the mission since Christmas 1982, when volunteers first started serving the needy of Jones County before growing to become a non-profit organization in June 1987.
Smith said the move is the culmination of about six years of effort to find a larger home for the Christian Food Mission. Pastor Gerald Henderson, who worked at the nearby vo-tech center, first mentioned that the old Moose Lodge was for sale and had plenty of space.
“Then, through a series of events, it happened,” Smith said.
The purchase and renovations were made possible, he said, by an anonymous $200,000 donation and a $65,000 donation from the Asbury Foundation, which is chipping in $20,000 per year over the next four years. The building was purchased outright last April with all donated money and the Christian Food Mission was able to move operations there in late March.
“We appreciate all of y’all who reach out and give meals to people of the community,” said Steve Thrash, president of the Christian Food Mission board. “The Lord provided again with this new home.”
Only one side of the building is renovated, but there’s still much more room to work in a spacious kitchen that’s equipped with high-end appliances and there’s plenty of parking places for volunteers who come to prepare, package and/or deliver hot meals.
It’s possible that the board will rent out the building for some events to help raise funds, Smith said, plus the building is on a 2-1/2-acre lot, which leaves room to expand even more.
Pastor Richard Walls gave the opening prayer, Chuck May led a hymn of dedication and Thrash gave opening remarks before Smith cut the ribbon, with volunteers, donors, board and chamber members by his side. The final touch was to cross out the word “Future” in a sign that adorned the front of the building: “Future Home of the Christian Food Mission.”
The goal of the Christian Food Mission, according to its website, is to “provide food for the needy and elderly and to effectively reach people with the truth of the Bible and the love of Jesus Christ.”
Most of the organization’s funding comes from churches and donations. The board’s 33rd annual meeting was hosted in the building after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.