Hutchinson residents who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from can stop by Faith Lutheran Church.
On the building’s southeast side beside the parking lot is a wooden box on a pole made to look like a small house. A collection of nonperishable food is inside, including beans, soup, peanut butter and more. There’s also flyers listing community meals in the area and a smaller box to submit prayer requests. Anyone can use the blessing box.
“The idea came from Christ the King (Lutheran Church),” said Dave Wollan a pastor at Faith Lutheran. “They inspired us and other places in town.”
In addition to Faith Lutheran and Christ the King, another blessing box can be found at Our Savior’s, with more in the works around Hutchinson.
“It’s kind of like the mini libraries but meeting a different need,” said Mollie Terlinden, a member of Faith Lutheran Church’s World Ministry Team.
The blessing boxes are meant to provide a free place for anyone to pick up what they need for a meal if they need one. Terlinden said someone may have the need when the food shelf in Hutchinson isn’t open, or when they can’t make it there. She’s also heard from teachers that some kids worry about having regular meals when on summer break from school.
“The kids may not know how to reach the food shelf or how to get there during the right hours,” Terlinden said. “Here they can come get a meal or a snack and not have so much anxiety.”
Wollan said that as part of the Hutchinson Leadership Institute, his volunteer group wanted to bring more blessing boxes to Hutchinson. That’s how he came to tell the church’s World Ministry Team about the boxes.
“The team stepped up and made it happen,” he said.
Randy Roepke, a member of the team, built the box.
“He was retired, and he said, ‘I think I can do this,’” Terlinden said. “He built it and then he worked with the city to find an appropriate location. We wanted it to be some place where people could come up to it without feeling like all eyes were on them. So while we’re on Main Street and very visible, we wanted it off to the back. ... That’s a pretty vulnerable moment if you need to take food.”
Anyone who wants to drop off food for the box is encouraged to bring it inside the church so those at the office can keep track of what is available and rotate a variety as needed. The church’s World Ministry Team will help manage the box and take turns looking after it and retrieving the prayer requests left inside.
“As a congregation, I think everyone has stepped up,” Terlinden said.