Thinking outside of the box is nothing new for Pastor Jomo Cousins, lead pastor at Love First Christian Center in Riverview. With the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough County, coupled with rising food prices and children staying home for the summer, many families may be struggling. Pastor Jomo saw this overwhelming need and wanted the church to be part of the solution.
Prior to the church closing due to the quarantine, Love First Christian Center had a small food pantry that was able to serve a limited number of people due to storage capacity. However, now that the church is not being filled with parishioners, Pastor Jomo knew this meant the unused space could now be used for expanding the food pantry.
“I was thinking of ways we can be effective to our community in our current environment,” said Pastor Jomo. “We may not be holding church, but we now have space to hold food.”
The church lobby has now been converted to the food pantry, holding pallets of canned and dry goods and a packing area where church staff and volunteers pack the food each Tuesday for the hundreds of families to come pick it up.
“We are practicing safely with our masks and gloves,” said Pastor Jomo. “And the drive-thru is set up with cones and we bring the food safely to each car.”
In addition to the groceries, the church is also distributing gallons of milk that it’s receiving each week as a donation from Borden Milk. Some families request multiple gallons of milk and Pastor Jomo takes any unclaimed gallons of milk in the church delivery van and distributes them to families in Wimauma.
The groceries are currently not donated to the church, in fact, the church is using its own funds to purchase the food from Feeding America Tampa Bay, Walmart and Dollar General. The church lives by the saying on the side of its delivery truck, “We Live To Give.”
“We want to always be part of the solution. God has really blessed us, and we want to bless others in our community,” said Pastor Jomo. “Just like the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, God uses us to bless others.”
The drive-thru grocery takes place each Tuesday from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Supplies are limited and are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each family receives approximately two to three grocery bags filled with dry and canned goods as well as at least 1 gallon of milk. The milk distribution may depend on when the truck arrives.
Love First Christian Center is located at 12847 Balm Riverview Rd. in Riverview. For more information, follow on Facebook by searching Love First Christian Center, or visit www.lfcc.tv or call 671-2009.