St. John’s Winona Food Security Team: Sharing Time, Talent, Treasure

 on August 18, 2022
The Reverend Antonio Illas

In March of 2020 not only did the doors of St. John’s Winona church close, but the back door used by parishioners and community customers every Tuesday was also closed. For a while St. John’s Winona Food Security Team was able to do pre-ordered curbside pickup, but once freezers were empty, they were unable to be replenished.

The clientele is mainly seniors living in the area. They have come to depend on homemade dinner items by the St. John’s Winona Food Security Team, such as beef and chicken pies, cabbage rolls, shepherd’s pie and quiche. Desserts like sticky toffee pudding, or pies are also included. They know they are getting well-made dinners that help them be self-sufficient. Busy families that require a ready-made dinner for the night when their children have practice for sports, music or some other outside activity also use the service. The Food Security Team regularly contributes donated food or funds to local food banks.

It was with prayer, happy hearts, and gratitude that the Food Security Team was authorized to open the kitchen again in July of 2021. Under the COVID-19 guidelines, teams were limited to five people working at one time. From a team that could number as many as 12–14 each week, there were now only five doing the work. But “what a team”! Everybody seems to have something they excel at, whether it is making pastry, crimping perogies, peeling potatoes, or doing dishes and preparing coffee. It took time to return to routine, but the response was immediate. Every Tuesday clients came to the door pleased to have the Food Security Team back in the community.

A story that team members found touching was a woman whose husband was terminally ill with cancer and going through medical treatment. Her first order was for a dozen meat and chicken pies, but when team members noticed she was ordering a dozen chicken pies every other week they asked why. Her answer was probably one of the best compliments and blessings team members could have received.

Because of the radiation treatments her husband had difficulty eating anything and the chicken pies were the only thing that did not irritate his mouth or stomach. What had started as a way to make her life easier by having food on hand after hours spent at the hospital, then as home caregiver, and finally at the hospice, the pies became a staple in their lives.

A second fun story from Lynne, a parishioner at St. John’s Winona, is about her 95-year-old bachelor uncle, a huge fan of the food products prepared by the Food Security Team. Her uncle has always been an amazing cook and every year the yummiest preserves and baking roll out of his kitchen. Because of his advancing age, he has slowed down in the kitchen and Lynne began bringing him some of the offerings from St. John’s kitchen. He has tasted everything that the Food Security ministry has to offer and the reaction is always the same: “Can you please get me more?” Needless to say, he loves the food that the Food Security Team so lovingly prepare and his comments speak to the great quality turned out each and every week. In Lynne’s, words, “Keep on feeding my precious Uncle!”

The mission of the Food Security Team is to provide the community with well-made food at reasonable prices. The food ministry is not meant to be for profit. Presently, any extra funds that come from the sales are shared with the Migrant Farmworkers Project. It is only because of the volunteers that give generously of their time, talents, and donations of food and supplies that the ministry breaks even on costs.

God asks us to share our time, talent, and treasures that he has given us, and here at St. John’s Winona we can wholeheartedly attest that is exactly what our Food Security Team ministry does.

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