ST PAUL, Minnesota — Every Wednesday night, from 5:30 to 6:30, the outside of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church turns into a drive-thru.
"We have people who say this is the only time they leave their house. They don't feel comfortable going anywhere else," said Jennifer Schneider, deacon at Our Redeemer.
There are free hot meals and groceries.
"We are very fortunate to have community partners helping, helping us to rescue food. We get a lot of food rescue from local grocery stores and food shelves," explained Schnieder.
The drive-thru event sometimes provides clothes and masks.
However, you'll always find comfort.
"We've really found that this has been a great way for us to hear stories of our neighbors and to be a listening place. A lot of people just need somebody to talk to," said Schneider.
Years ago, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church became a dining site for the nonprofit Loaves and Fishes. But like everything else, the pandemic forced the church to figure out how to feed the growing need in the community.
"A lot of people are struggling with chronic unemployment or underemployment. We have some folks who are homeless who come through, and people that are just struggling with various health issues and not able to get the resources they need," said Schneider.
But as the saying goes, "without darkness, there can be no light."
"We have new volunteers every week, and there's always somebody saying, 'Hey, how can I give back? You've really helped my family and I would love to come volunteer with you.' We hope that this is a catalyst for future ways to connect with our community," said Schneider.