Welcome Ministry opens its food pantry twice each month on the first and third Tuesdays to serve the community around us. Most of our guests are Iraqi Chaldean refugees who live in El Cajon.
Volunteers from First Presbyterian of El Cajon and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of El Cajon – where the pantry is headquartered – unload, sort, and distribute perishable food provided by the San Diego Food Bank. Our goal is that each guest receives enough fresh produce to support a household of four people in the coming week. We typically serve 100 to 125 households each time our pantry doors open.
Guests arrive early to register and confirm their eligibility to receive food at no cost from the Food Bank. When the time comes for the pantry to open, everyone assembles in St. Alban’s patio courtyard. There, Father Dave or an assisting minister begins with this invocation: “This is God’s holy ground and you, my brothers and sisters, are God’s holy people.” A gathering prayer follows before the guests enter the pantry.
St. Alban’s is also the site of the Circle Community Garden to provide a variety of gardening plots for people to work as their own. The garden is a gift to the community from St. Alban’s and First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon. The Circle Community Garden was established “to provide access to land to allow community members to grow food and other crops in an eco-friendly manner, and to learn organic gardening techniques in a cooperative environment which promotes a sense of community.” The individual garden plots have been a hedge against food insecurity for many families with limited incomes who raise their own fresh produce.