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Flora ministries team up to feed those in need after legal battle forces food pantry to shut down

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 11:55 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - We first brought you the story about a legal battle that forced a food pantry in Flora to close its doors after 10 years of feeding those in need.

Now, First Baptist Church of Flora is filling the void by serving those impacted by the loss.

If it weren’t for First Baptist’s efforts, about 300 people in the community would’ve been without the food that they depend on due to misunderstandings between the pastor and some members at Union Hill Baptist Church.

“It didn’t have to come to that point,” Carolyn Singleton said.

Singleton has picked up food from Union Hill’s pantry for ten seniors for the last decade.

When the legal issues at the church escalated to the point of the pantry closing, Singleton said she was heartbroken.

“I had to tell all of them when I dropped their boxes off that they probably wouldn’t be getting anymore,” she said. “They were very sad about it, and I was very sad about it because I know how happy they were to get it and that they needed it.”

But Wednesday, Singleton said she and hundreds of others are overjoyed that First Baptist Church came through in a time of need.

Volunteer Lynn Hancock said she’s felt every bit of that appreciation.

“We have had some come in this morning that actually wanted to hug us and are so thankful that we have taken over the ministry that they have not been able to do this month,” Hancock said.

First Baptist’s Executive Pastor Mark Sandifer said all it took was one phone call for his ministry to get involved.

“Mississippi Food Network called us Monday and said, ‘Would you be willing to host about 150 folks at your facility and help these people out?’” Sandifer said. “We said, ‘Well, of course.’”

The church typically feeds about 20 people per month, with the addition of Union Hill, that number will now jump to about 170.

Sandifer said it’s no skin off his back.

“We have three meals a day, most of us, without any question. A lot of people only have one,” he said. “Without the food resources provided by a food bank like ours, it’s very difficult for folks to make ends meet. So just thinking about someone not having something to eat just breaks our heart. We want to make sure that we can do what we can to help.”

The pastor said his ministry is prepared to open up again next week if they weren’t able to get to all of Union Hill’s clients Wednesday.

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