As chicken sizzled on the grill, the Rev. Allen Lutes cubed cold watermelon and cooked rice. He and many volunteers were getting ready to serve dinner from a 1996 Chevy food truck to women and children at a domestic-violence shelter.
Lutes, associate pastor at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and a trained chef, sees this as an opportunity to take the ministry to the streets. The Five & Two food-truck ministry launched in the spring. "Food trucks are popular, and we wanted to take the church into the community and break bread together," said the Rev. Mary Spradlin, senior pastor.
In 2014, more than 64 church members and volunteers became trained and certified food handlers. They have been instrumental in helping feed those in need since June. On the second Monday of every month, Lutes and volunteers feed 30 to 50 women and 60 to 70 children who reside at the Presbyterian Night Shelter's Patriot House. On the third Thursday of every month, they feed more than 30 veterans at the same shelter.
"We love to sit around the table with them and share stories," said Lutes. "Sharing a meal is the most intimate thing to do." He said the volunteers also play basketball with the children. The men want to be present to let the girls and boys know that positive male role models do exist.
In addition to serving delicious, healthy meals, the church also distributes prayer shawls to everyone and recently gave books to the children in the shelter.
Arlington Heights raised about $50,000 to launch Five & Two. Kroger, the retail food chain, donates food to the ministry. Five & Two also appears at other events and locations throughout the year. So far, the ministry has served more than 1,800 people.
"This ministry is also transformational for our church members, said Spradlin, "because it can transform the spiritual life of the congregation and help us to be better disciples."
AT A GLANCE Arlington Heights United Methodist Church | 4200 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107 | 817-737-3161 | [email protected] | www.ahumcfw.org | Rev. Mary Kathryn Spradlin, senior pastor | Average Attendance: 393 | Central Texas Conference