Hartly church offers food for the body and soul from its pantry

May 15, 2023

In the small town of Hartly just west of Dover, the Solid Rock Church, ministers to the bodies as well as the souls of neighbors in the rural community. The church, and its outreach – My Father’s House – partners with the Food Bank of Delaware to provide food for those in need. The Food Bank partners with food closets statewide, some of which are faith-based like this one.

Despite the recent elimination of SNAP benefits tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people this pantry serves remains constant. “We serve 80-100 people every single month. I haven’t seen a big increase in traffic,” said Pastor Ritchie Lambert. He and his wife founded this church over 30 years ago.

“Now we have seen an increase in what people take, grandparents raising grandkids, so there is an increase in what goes out,” he added. “We let people pick what they want; that’s how I run the food pantry – on the honor system.”

The pantry hours are 3-5 p.m. each Tuesday, and Pastor Lambert says those who use it seem to live within a 15-mile radius. “They might be from Dover, Felton or Marydel. “ I know everybody by first name. I know who is in line when we open up,” he said.

He notes that most people don’t talk about the other challenges they might be facing during a pantry visit. “I assume people don’t want to talk about their business. If they want to talk to me, we do it privately,” he said.

Pastor Lambert explains that this pantry is funded by the church’s congregation. “We have a small, but generous, church, but we have to pay the electric bill before we get food,” he said. As in many pantries, support also comes from organizations like the Boy Scout troop that built a much-needed desk and the Girl Scout troop that created a Blessing Box now stocked by a volunteer.

To learn more about becoming a partner of the Food Bank of Delaware, click here.

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