There is more than a hot meal served to those in need coming to the Horizons Food Pantry, located at 224 S. 8th Street in Quincy. And there is more than the work of volunteers taking place there, including that done by our own faithful stewards from St. Peter. There is discipleship in action, both embracing and sharing the love of Christ.
“When you understand the mercy and grace Jesus gives us, it becomes easier to give mercy and grace to those we’re serving,” says Sarah Stephens, Horizons Food Pantry Executive Director. “For me, I say I need Horizons more than Horizons needs me.”
The soup kitchen at Horizons serves hot meals Monday through Friday, from noon-1 p.m., and Sunday from 5-6 p.m. There are between 150 to 250 meals served each day, and last year there were nearly 40,000 hot meals served.
“We work hard to do nutritious meals,” Sarah says. “We try to make them protein-packed, with fresh fruits and vegetables. We have two Cordon Bleu-trained chefs in the kitchen. And we couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers.”
St. Peter Parish provides both volunteer and financial help to the food pantry. Each month, our parish makes a financial gift, and our volunteers work at the pantry on alternating Mondays. There are two shifts from 9 to 11 a.m. (food prep) and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (serving and cleanup).
“The total number of volunteer hours from St. Peter Parish in 2022 was 16,000,” Sarah says. “In Illinois that comes out to $28 per hour in value. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Horizons also receives donations of food to help serve the meals.
“People donate fresh produce from their gardens,” Sarah says. “One day we had a sink full of peppers, and we get about 200 pounds of fresh produce from Aldi each day. And what we get looks so good!”
And that good food is lovingly prepared and served with love to those in need of both.
“The people we serve are very thankful,” Sarah says. “It’s a preconceived notion that they are lazy or are taking advantage, but we don’t see that.”
Those being served are being brought into a community that cares for them and extends God’s love to them.
“Just when you understand our call is to love God first, it’s beautiful,” Sarah says. “It really is a community coming together. We do devotions in the kitchen each morning. The volunteers and staff become a close-knit family. It’s a beautiful picture of what God intends a community to be.”
Horizons also hosts those doing court-ordered community service, carrying out kitchen tasks.
“When they see the church volunteers working and serving and extending the love of Christ to each other, they see God firsthand,” Sarah says. “When someone finishes their court-ordered work, they come back and help. That’s the best compliment, ever — all because of God’s presence. The volunteers are part of that, sharing that love with whoever is in the kitchen. There’s lots of opportunities to take part in active discipleship.”
Those interested in serving at Horizons Food Pantry or wanting more information may contact volunteer coordinator Kris Rueter at firstname.lastname@example.org.