About six months ago, a couple of “Free Food Pantry” wooden boxes that look similar to neighborhood “lending libraries” popped up on Huntsville Brownsferry Road just inside of Heritage Church’s parking lot entrance. To some passersby, these boxes may appear to be nothing that involves them.
But to longtime Madison resident and Heritage Church pastor Suzanne Katschke, she looks at those boxes daily and sees a years-long dream come true as well as something the whole community can be a part of.
“These boxes, called the Lil’ 24/7 Food Pantry, were something I’d been thinking about for a long time,” she says. “And when I connected with a local boy scout who was looking for an Eagle Scout project, we got to work.”
Katschke says that she is so thankful for student and new Eagle Scout Sam Gossett for his hard work on bringing her vision to life.
Katschke describes her “free little food pantry” boxes as a supplemental food pantry for those in need of something for a meal or two to help them get by.
“What we have here isn’t designed to feed you for the week, but it is a great alternative to help those get by who maybe are a day or two away from a paycheck.”
Katschke says that she and her husband Michael Katschke (also a senior pastor at Heritage Church) have been amazed at the need for this new food pantry option here in Madison.
“We have a hard time keeping them stocked!” she shared. “We’ll fill it up and within 48 hours, it’s all gone.”
Katschke says that she’s been available to chat with a handful of food pantry recipients when their paths cross in the parking lot at just the right time, and then shared that “for whatever reason, many of them just simply aren’t comfortable going to other food banks, or sometimes the hours of the food distribution just didn’t work out for them.”
“I see a lot of single moms and a lot of elderly. The latter makes me sad,” she shared. “We need to be more mindful that people are really struggling and be aware of how we can help our neighbors meet some of their immediate needs.”
Katschke says that it’s warmed her heart tremendously to see church members and other community members helping out with stocking the boxes without her even asking.
“I’ll notice the boxes are getting low on food, and then someone will pull up and put 10 boxes of mac and cheese in them.”
Those interested in donating items to the “free little food pantry boxes” at Heritage Church are invited to place them directly in the boxes themselves or leave them in bags or boxes near the front doors to the church’s entrance.
A suggested list of needed non-perishable items includes:
- Mac and cheese
- Canned meats such as tuna and Beanie Weenies
- Hamburger Helper meals
- Ramen noodles
- Canned veggies
- Chef Boyardee
- Mashed potatoes
- Dried pasta
- Canned spaghetti sauce
Katschke says that these food pantry boxes are a “beautiful thing” and “love in action right in front of us.”
“The whole point of the Church is to meet the needs of our neighbors, and it takes all of us working together to do that.”
She says that these food boxes are a tangible way for the community to work together on meeting hunger needs for those around us, even if we don’t all know each other.
“These boxes really just started as an experiment, but they’re working. We are constantly trying to do new things to make sure we’re helping, and this has been a really great thing.”
Get to Know Heritage Church in Madison, Alabama
Senior Pastor Michael Katschke says that “we are a church that is all about authenticity.”
Their tagline is “we love big”, and they mean it.
“We are all about being real here, and we also have a huge heart for our community,” he says. “We are constantly focusing on being the Church outside of the walls of this church.”
Heritage Church is just four years old and describes itself as having a contemporary style.
Michael Katschke explains that he knows our community is full of people who aren’t from here and invites those specifically to come to check out Heritage.
“We want people to have a family away from family here.”
He concluded by sharing that their ultimate goal is to help others know that Jesus loves them.
“We’re a fun place to be!”
Michael and Suzanne are thrilled to be kicking off in-person services back in their church building next Sunday, May 23rd. In-person service times will be at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. with a Livestream service to follow at 11 a.m.
An array of childcare options are available as well.
Heritage Church in Madison, Alabama
29768 Huntsville Brownsferry Road