Bread feeds the masses

Published 11:50 pm Friday, February 11, 2011

Free bread: From left, David Nicholes, Levi Nicholes, Sandy Shepard and Scott Shepard display some of the bread given out through Community Baptist Church’s free bread ministry. Levi and his brother Lance volunteer at the bread giveaway faithfully, the Shepards said.

Members of Community Baptist Church are feeding locals in need both physically and spiritually.

A ministry run by the church provides free bread to people who need it — and also helps them discover the bread of life.

“The idea was to meet the people and do them a material favor with hope of doing them a bigger spiritual favor,” Pastor David Nicholes said. “It’s more about the Gospel than about bread, but it’s about both.”

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Members of the church obtain bread from various bread companies’ warehouses and hand it out at the church every first and third Saturday. The bread comes in all shapes, sizes and varieties — loaves, bagels, English muffins, pita bread, sandwich thins and more.

The group advertises on Craigslist and in the newspaper. No proof of income or other qualification is required to receive the bread.

“I don’t think anybody is going to go and get bread if they don’t need it,” said Sandy Shepard, who developed the idea for the program with her husband.

The bread is separated into bins of about a dozen varied items. Each family receives one bin, but is encouraged to share it with neighbors or freeze it if they have a smaller family.

“The majority of the people we see are people that have lost their jobs and have never gone for food help, and they’re embarrassed,” Shepard said. At the end of each giveaway, extra bread is shared with other churches or the Salvation Army.

One woman drives all the way from Maryland every first and third Saturday to pick up bread for migrant workers her ministry serves, Shepard said.

But the bread giveaway isn’t just about the edible bread — it’s also about Jesus Christ, who called Himself the “bread of life” in the Gospels.

The church takes seriously the words of Deuteronomy 8:3b in the Holy Bible: “That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”

“We do talk to them spiritually and see if they have any spiritual needs,” Shepard said. “A lot of people have great concern these days.”

The church writes a spiritual question on the board near the bread tables to open the door to conversation.

“We have people who aren’t interested in hearing that, and that’s fine,” Shepard said. “But that gives them the opportunity to ask questions.”

Pastor Nicholes said people who aren’t interested in spiritual talk receive tangible bread just the same.

“That is completely inconsequential,” he said. “That is really the design of it — to be kind to people. It’s really a small, simple, community connection.”

The giveaway is held every first and third Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church, 3520 Pruden Blvd. Changes in the schedule sometimes occur. They are posted on Craigslist and in the ad in the Suffolk News-Herald, or you can find them by calling 605-8659.