Feeding neighbors is a spiritual mission at this rural pantry

April 17, 2023

Ricky Lecates’ long-term commitment to hunger relief comes from a spiritual place. He manages the Blessings Unlimited Food Pantry associated with Bay Shore Community Church, Millsboro, but he credits a team of volunteers for the time and effort they invest in meeting their neighbors’ needs.

Blessings Unlimited – actually located on a quiet country road in the unincorporated Gumboro area – is one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s more than 700 Hunger Relief Partners statewide.

The pantry is open once a week,  from 10 a.m. until noon every Wednesday. “We served 60 families last week, and that’s for three meals a day for three days,” Legates said. “In the last 23 years, I have seen the number go up to as many as 100. I’ve seen it go down too.”

To prepare for neighbors’ visits, volunteers stock the shelves on Tuesday, refreshing with items from the Food Bank plus food donated through Food Lion – including breads.

The pantry, formerly located in a converted shed, was recently expanded and designed for efficiency. A volunteer accompanies each family as they “shop” this pantry – selecting shelf-stable items based on the household size. Each family goes home with bags of frozen meat. “It’s pretty efficient,” he notes.

Legates explains that he and other volunteers enjoy talking with people as they shop. “I’m a minister at heart. God commands us to feed the poor, and there will always be poor. We have had people who have been burned out of their homes, people who have just moved to Delaware. They are people below the poverty line who have trouble making ends meet,” said this retired truck driver.

While he believes that financial counseling and training in money management may benefit some, he admits that he tries to understand the causes, such as housing needs. “We see it all the time, spending $2,800 a month for housing.”

As a man who has been part of mission trips abroad, he recognizes that there’s excess food close to home that can benefit his neighbors. “It’s distribution; to feed people is not hard, so I’m doing something. God has touched my heart. We have opportunities to talk with them, and a conversation can go deep. We are trained to listen and be kind. This is spiritual feeding with a lot of intent.”

Bay Shore Community Church also serves congregations in Rehoboth Beach, Fenwick Island and online.

Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about our Hunger Relief Partners and mobile pantry distribution sites.

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