Food Pantry on Wheels Is Making a Difference in U.S. City

In Kansas City neighborhoods with food insecurity, initiative offers nutritious options.

Karen Whitson, for Mid-America Union Outlook, and Adventist Review
Food Pantry on Wheels Is Making a Difference in U.S. City
[Photo: Mid-America Union Outlook]

When the Kansas City (KC) Area Transportation Authority offered to donate a 40-foot (12 m) city bus to our Renewed Hope Food Pantry, we knew the answer had to be yes. We had been praying that God would help the pantry do more, show more of His love, as we see the need for food increasing around us.

With AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and Adventist Community Services as major sponsors, we were able to convert the bus to a food pantry on wheels and go to neighborhoods where the need for food assistance is high. 

On the Hope Bus, people can choose what they need from fresh vegetables and fruits and a variety of other nutritious food, including proteins and grains in boxed meals, canned goods, and more.

Located in Overland Park, Kansas, United States, the Renewed Hope Food Pantry serves the greater Kansas City area. With the Hope Bus, we are moving from curbside service at our home location, the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church in Overland Park, to roadside food assistance throughout the Kansas City metro area.

We are reaching the entire KC metro by working with volunteers from Adventist churches across the city as an Adventist Community Services team. The Hope Bus is an asset for all churches in the KC area, covering the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, the Central States Conference, and the Iowa-Missouri Conference of the Adventist Church.

The first stop for the Hope Bus when it became operational last February was the Sion Seventh-day Adventist Church in Olathe, Kansas. Volunteers served 40 families with 1,200 pounds (almost 270 kg) of food. The Hope Bus has served several communities in Olathe as well as areas in need across Kansas City.

Before receiving the bus, Renewed Hope had already stepped up to serve in a bigger way during the pandemic, expanding from 28,624 people visits in 2019 to 131,623 people visits in 2020. Volunteers distributed 605,384 pounds (about 274,600 kg) of food in 2019 and increased this to about 1.9 million pounds (almost 862,000 kg) of food in 2020 and again in 2021.

This year, we continue to see a high number of people coming to Renewed Hope for food assistance, with new people signing up every week. The growth of Renewed Hope has been a response to prayer. We pray that wherever the food goes, God’s Holy Spirit will also go. We pray that everyone will truly taste and see that the Lord is good. Our volunteers want to make an impact for good by helping to solve the problem of food insecurity — lack of reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. While doing this, we want to show the love of God.

From Good to Great

Our relationship with the bus donors, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), started in the summer of 2021 during a hotel initiative for people experiencing homelessness. The city of Kansas City, Missouri, housed people facing homelessness for 90 days, and Renewed Hope led a team of local pantries and communities to deliver food to these guests in 12 different hotels in the metro area.

Drivers for KCATA met us at Harvesters, our local food bank, and we loaded up the city bus to take food to a hotel hub near Worlds of Fun. From April through August, Renewed Hope, along with several Adventist churches and organizations in the KC metro, shared 33,331 pounds (almost 10,160 Kg) of food with people who are homeless, living on the streets, in camps, and temporarily housed in hotels. This provided about 27,775 meals.

This fall, we are continuing to find new places for the Hope Bus to serve people facing hunger, such as in church parking lots, health clinics, libraries, community centers, local businesses, along the side of the road by city parks — anywhere people face hunger.

When our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and states face a crisis and are missing access to nutritious food, we want to do more to show the love of God. This is the reason we exist. There is joy in overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21) and watching to see what God will do when we dream of new ways to serve Him and pray for resources to make it happen.

In John 1, Nathanael exclaims to Jesus, “ ‘You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ ” (v. 49, HCSB). Nathaniel’s faith was boosted when Jesus told Nathanael He saw him under the fig tree. Jesus also told Nathaniel, “You will see greater things than this” (v. 50). This is a message for us today. We are serving Jesus, the King of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Savior of mankind.

The food that comes every week is a miracle. The Hope Bus is a miracle. Every volunteer and donation are a miracle. Let’s keep serving the Lord and making an impact for good in our community.

The original version of this story was posted by the Mid-America Union Outlook magazine.

Karen Whitson, for Mid-America Union Outlook, and Adventist Review

Karen Whitson, for Mid-America Union Outlook, and Adventist Review