Elder Derek Edwards, Pastor Bryan Vaughan, Judy Weiser and Elder Bill Wilstra

By: Michelle Poirier

The Hope for Today Fellowship church in Keswick feeds not only souls, but also hungry families. 

Elder Derek Edwards runs a food pantry through his church, Hope for Today Fellowship, and due to COVID-19, he has seen a 50 percent increase in recipients.

“Before we would get anywhere from three to five calls, now it’s about six to 10 calls per week,” he said.

The food pantry started seven years ago when Elder Edwards moved to Keswick with his family and opened his church Hope For Today Fellowship. It started out as a bread donation and slowly turned into a full food pantry.

“They come here with all sorts of issues; they may not be forthcoming when they first get here, but after a few times they understand that we’re just here to help and a lot of them ask for prayer, and we’re more than happy to do that, so it’s just been a real blessing to see it grow and the community accept us,” he said.

“There’s a lot of stigma with asking for help, and we don’t want people to feel stigmatized by that.”

Elder Edwards’ food pantry receives donations from The Food Bank of York Region, a food distribution hub for local food banks and pantries.   

“They are part of our network, they let us know what they’re looking for and we deliver that,” Sarah Smith, Office Administrator and Volunteer Coordinator at the Food Bank of York Region, said.

“We want to highlight them and what they’re doing,” she said. 

“I think it’s a really great thing to see.” 

The church is closed to keep social distancing during COVID-19, so they have created a system to keep everyone safe.

“We’ve bagged the groceries and we hand them out. People, they drive up, they pop their trunk, we put the bags in and away they go,” he said.

Elder Edwards runs the food pantry with the help of his wife, Malee Edwards, their children, Pastor Bryan Vaughan, Elder Bill Wilstra, and Judy Weiser, the administrator for the food pantry.

Elder Edwards said the response to the church’s food pantry has been positive and that he has had people who have used the service in the past come back to help out because they appreciate what the church is doing.

“There for the grace of God was me once upon a time. My wife and I, we had three kids and we were struggling years and years ago, and we ate at food banks. So, I understand what they’re going through. We’re not here to stigmatize them or point fingers or anything like that, but to encourage them,” he said. 

The Hope for Today Fellowship food pantry is open to the entire community and anyone who needs assistance is welcome. 

If you need help from the food pantry you can visit Hope for Today Fellowship at 267 Hollywood Drive in Keswick every Tuesday between 11a.m. and 1p.m.

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