I first read about the closing of the Milagros Angels Pantry in a September 25th newspaper article written by Barry Carter for the Star-Ledger.
The coordinator of this Newark, New Jersey, pantry was one of those rare people with “fire in the belly” for feeding the hungry. She was a woman with a true passion for her people.
Barbara Arroyo operated her pantry out of The Temple Rock of My Salvation Church in the North Ward of Newark where she served upwards of 1000 people monthly.
The story of the closing is a little complicated, of course. It appears to be a combination of feeding too many hungry people mixed in with political oversight.
For my money, either/or/and may have happened.
For sure, when someone opens a pantry in a church, things are wonderful as long as the number of hungry people fed stays around two to three dozen people weekly. And, of course, if the coordinator is doing a good job and feeding the hungry, the numbers soon escalate to 100 or 200 or even 300 people weekly.
That’s when things get a little antsy. People become uncomfortable with the situation.
The subtext here is this: send them somewhere else, anywhere else, but not here.
Depending on the personality of the church board/members, the church may begin to just get mean to both the volunteers and the hungry in hopes of running them off. One sure way to do this is to limit the hours the pantry can be open.
Then, occasionally, politics rears its ugly head. And, that really is scary because if a pantry is connected to a 501(c)3, politics need to stay far, far out of the picture.
Finally, if that doesn’t work, the church just says “You’re closing.”
We may never know the true story.
Such is life on Hunger Street. What happened to Barbara Arroyo has happened to other coordinators of other pantries as well.
I’m writing this story for a reason – not just to vent about a church closing a pantry. I’m writing this story to see if I can find out more about Barbara Arroyo. I honestly feel she’s a woman with a ministry.
My question is this: Has she been able to open somewhere else yet…or has she just given up?
Please contact me if you think you might have the answer.
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Peace and food for all.