Bethesda Mission Food Bank Celebrates 25 Years!
Read the full newsletter here.
Dave Hicks, Director of the Food Bank
Lily K. Martin, Communications Specialist
The story of the Bethesda Mission Food Bank begins in 1996 with Helen Diehl, former Human Resources Director, her husband, Bob Diehl, Bill Ivey, former Assistant Director, and Greg Kelly, former Food Services Director. This team met with individuals from Perry County to discuss the needs of hunger in the community and out of these conversations the Bethesda Mission Food Bank was born.
God’s excesses at the Men’s Shelter inspired these leaders to share the abundance with the needy of Central Pennsylvania. A donation offered by Eagle Snacks turned into 25 cases of snacks, and these donations eventually became semi-truck loads of food.
It was around this time that the Mission developed relationships with Bread Of Life Outreach in Newport, Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster, Union Mission in West Virginia, and Adams County Rescue Mission. The food bank operated from Cameron Street for a short time before moving to the Mission Central Warehouse in Mechanicsburg. The ministry has been serving guests and community from this location for 18 years. More recently, the Food Bank’s volunteers and the surrounding community came together during the COVID-19 pandemic to help families in need. Donations have also grown in the past few years to new heights. In addition, the Food Bank changed names from Bethesda Mission’s Outreach Ministry to the Bethesda Mission Food Bank. Rebranding occurred in 2021 in response to a heavy flow of food specific donations.
Abundance and Current Growth
Over the years, equipment upgrades such as various forklifts and a multi-pallet-size freezer/refrigerator have arrived through God’s people and provision. Other additions, such as multi-level steel racking, have allowed the Food Bank to grow, not only in capacity, but in blessings.
Directors over the years have come and gone; however, unlike ever-changing organizations and businesses, Bethesda’s Food Bank directors are a fraternity of hope that cast a clear and powerful vision for the next leader. Current Director, Dave Hicks, recalls hours collaborating with predecessors Zack Kinard and Ray Harden. Dave fondly remembers a conversation from his first month as director when Darvin Martin, (another former Outreach Director), etched on a napkin some things to consider and future opportunities in the region. Despite seasons of change, God creates something new and more special with each chapter. David Hicks and Rick Shumaker faithfully serve the Food Bank today.
A Bright Future
The future of Bethesda Mission Food Bank is bright! Operating in the Central Pennsylvania community where generosity and love of neighbor is clear, our guests and Community Center clients feel the love of Jesus daily. Future donations are expected to be abundant as we establish and grow relationships with a rapidly building warehouse supply chain growing in the region thanks to interstate accessibility. Bethesda Mission will improve warehouse technology based inventory systems to more efficiently move millions of pounds of food and household goods through our ministries and partner agencies. There is a gap of hunger at our shelters and in our neighborhoods. If you would like to donate food or volunteer serving God alongside our staff and volunteers visit bethesdamission.org to learn how you can join our family of impact.
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