Pantries are secular places, in New York State, anyway. We cannot discriminate against a person/family/household because of religious beliefs.
We “cannot engage in the promotion of a particular religion or political party as part of our feeding programs nor require clients to attend religious or political services or instruction in order to receive food.”
That being said, I read a prayer at the beginning of every board meeting. I felt then, and feel now, that it grounded the board members for the meetings. There was always spoken and unspoken push back from several board members about my pantry activities.
The pantry prayer that I read is repeated below. It is two sections. The top section was written by myself. The second part, beginning with the words “O God of abundance…” I got from Sara Miles’ book “Take This Bread.”
PANTRY BOARD MEETING PRAYER
To the God to whom we all pray –
We ask that our hands, hearts, minds, and souls be illuminated by the light of your compassion and unconditional love.
We ask that this meeting proceed for the highest good of all connected to our pantry:
The customers who shop in the pantry
The people who donate the food
The workers at the food bank
And those who are seeking, but have not yet found, the pantry.
We ask for the protection and continued improvement of the health of our volunteers and shoppers in the pantry.
Please send Bodisaphas and Angels to guide and protect us as we strive to feed the people.
O God of Abundance, you feed us everyday. Rise in us now, make us into your bread, that we may share your gifts with a hungry world, and join in love and healing with all people.