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Churches unite to help feed the needy through Matthew Project
May 15, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Ron McFarland with The Matthew Project is part of the faith based community that reaches out to help feed those in need in the community. Volunteers are always welcome to assist with the ministry. Call (308) 631-5416 for more information.

For the past three years, 10 church congregations from around the community have come together to provide hot meals for those in need and to let them know that God loves them and finds worth in them.

The Matthew Project takes its name from Matthew 25:40 – “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Ron McFarland, who helps coordinate the project, said it started as an outreach of the Rock Church in Scottsbluff three years and grew from there. With two donated trucks and donated food, some 80 cooks and volunteers distribute about 750 hot meals each month.

McFarland said actual cooking isn’t done in the trucks, but in the homes and church kitchens of those who volunteer. The trucks are used to distribute the meals every Tuesday and Friday. Volunteers start in Hascall Park in Terrytown at 5 p.m., then on to the parking lot at Clemens Carpet Barn on East Overland in Scottsbluff at 6 p.m. The Matthew Project also provides meals for Potter’s Wheel Ministries and Cirrus House.

McFarland said they really don’t advertise the times, but the word gets out on the street when the truck will be in their part of town.

“We set up an assembly line in the truck and package a casserole, dinner roll and dessert in biodegradable containers,” he said. “We include Christian literature in every bag and the people really seem to appreciate it.”

He added that everything, from food to labor, is donated by individuals throughout the community.

“I usually don’t talk about money because the Lord has always taken care of us. We’re not government supported, just by local businesses and churches. Because we have so many churches involved, the project pretty much takes care of itself.”

The Matthew Project distributes more than just food. During the past harsh winter, volunteers handed out 250 blankets and more coats and gloves than McFarland said he could remember.

Different churches volunteer of different nights and often do things a bit differently. Some groups also bring their own vehicles to distribute meals to shut-ins and the elderly, while others do not. And people in the community know which group has the truck on certain days and what will be served that night. And some churches have their youth groups help out.

“Our goal is to reach out to the needy in our community and help feed the hungry,” McFarland said. “This isn’t a denominational thing because we believe the Lord finds great worth in every person. It’s our job to go out and tell them. And most of the people who come for food are families, not individuals.”

People who want to volunteer with The Matthew Project can call McFarland at (308) 631-5416. More information is also available on their website, www.matthewproject.org.
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