Heart of the City Food Bank was started in 1948 by Amos and Elizabeth Zehr as part of their pastoral ministry at Mission Church in partnership with the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission. Over the years, working out of their home with numerous volunteers, and self-funding the needed supplies, the Zehrs made regular distributions of food items to inner city families of Fort Wayne. In 2001, Timothy and Karen Stauffer accepted the leadership of Heart of the City and began to develop a volunteer program to identify homes in need, make food available, and personally deliver groceries when necessary. The entire program became part of the Heart of the City Mission Foundation in 2010.
During the summer of 2010, 16-year-old Alex decided to take on the Heart of the City Food Bank as an Eagle Scout project. Working with his father, Gary, and several other volunteers, he has completed an ambitious project of finishing a room in a local Fort Wayne church building on Pearl Street (the building being used by Mission Church), with drywall and paint, building shelves, and stocking the room with thousands of cans and packages of food items. “The outreach into the inner city community by groups from several congregations will be enlarged because of this project,” says Timothy Stauffer, pastor at Mission Church. “We will continue to provide groceries to those families who are often in desperate need.”
In past years, on Christmas Eve 80-100 volunteers from several local congregations have fanned out from the HOTC location into the inner city neighborhoods of Fort Wayne. Going door-to-door with a focus on locating homes with small children and youth, they carried with them warm holiday greetings, gifts of donated coats and boxes of food. Hundreds of people were surprised by the generous gifts and all were very appreciative.
The goal of the Food Bank, working in cooperation with other local food banks and Associated Churches, is to get food into homes where young people are often left to fend for themselves when hungry. We identify these homes through a network of neighborhood partners who make us aware of “situations” on their block where neighbors are asking for food or where hunger is apparent.
This year, because of the Food Bank Build-Out project that Alex has completed, even more homes can be visited and helped. Other volunteers and organizations are committing to keeping the food “storehouse” stocked. We are looking for partners who will help us in the gathering and distribution of food items into homes with under-resourced children.
If you are willing to help, either with donations of canned goods, volunteering, or cash, your effort will be much appreciated and we believe you will be blessed by taking the opportunity to serve your “neighbors” in this way.