Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in downtown Little Rock has an almost 40-year history of feeding the homeless, working poor, and families in economic need. Recently, 200K More Reasons granted the church with $2,000 to continue serving sack lunches, bottled water, hygiene kits, and single-ride bus passes upon request to anyone who needs them. This service is known as Martha’s Door, named after the long-time volunteer of the church’s food pantry who recently passed away.
“Currently, these items are available during our church’s business hours, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday,” explained Harold Hughes, lay leader and volunteer with Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. “Feeding people is our primary ministry, and we strive to feed people who are food insecure, especially those experiencing homeless as well as the working poor. With the current economic climate, we are seeing a rapidly growing demand, and we serve double the number of people we served last year. Where this program has benefited adults in the past, we are beginning to see children as adults bring them with them for help.”
Martha’s Door is an extension of Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church’s long-established Sunday feeding programs, Community Breakfast and Stone Soup, in which anyone in the community can attend to have a hot meal. Martha’s Door extends this ministry into one in which those accessing the hot meals can have food at other times during the week as well.
“We have come to know many of the individuals and families personally and not just by name only,” Hughes said. “Even though the ministry does not currently serve many children directly, Martha’s Door does benefit them by helping adults, especially the working poor. Instead of leaving work to pick up their children to take them to a hot lunch, which many of the parents cannot do during the week, Martha’s Door allows them to provide their families with a meal during the day. This frees up the family’s financial resources and eliminates another obstacle for them to provide for their loved ones.”
The church expects the outreach through Martha’s Door to continue to grow. Hughes said the ministry served about 2,300 lunches last year as well as about 1,200 hygiene kits.
“Today, we give an average of about 15 to 20 sack lunches per day,” Hughes said. “We expect to distribute 4,500 this year. We also serve three children per day and project that to increase to eight or 10 by year end.”
To date, Martha’s Door and the church’s hot meals feeding ministries have managed on monetary and in-kind donations. Because of increased need and inflation, the grant funds allow Quapaw Quarter Methodist Church to meet the current and projected need for the year.
“These funds will purchase non-perishable food, basic toiletries and single-ride bus passes only,” Hughes said. “We have no administrative costs as we recycle plastic, T-style grocery bags to hold lunches and hygiene kits, supplies are stored in a corner of the church office, and volunteers pack both.”