Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Texas has teamed up with World Vision and other local non-profit groups to distribute over 12,000 boxes of fresh food to those in need. The collaborated initiative is not only helping feed hungry families, but it’s also allowing farmers to sell their crops.
The partnership between Lakewood and World Vision is part of the Fresh Food Box Program, which began shortly after COVID-19 shutdowns began. The program has helped feed over 860,000 Americans throughout 70 different locations.
It provides boxes of fresh food for families who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. It also helps farmers make a profit off of their crop that would have otherwise been wasted. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products will spoil if not sold and stored properly or quickly.
“World Vision was in Houston for two years helping rebuild after Hurricane Harvey,” Reed Slattery, national director of World Vision U.S. programs, said. “We noticed how in need the area was. During the pandemic, we know folks aren’t working and food is one of the biggest needs. So we come alongside them and make sure families here have dinner.”
At the Houston hub where Osteen’s megachurch is located, semi-trucks transport food to Lakewood twice a week. The church then distributes the food to smaller churches and non-profit organizations. The program refers to the smaller hubs as Points of Distribution Services (PODS).
The PODS then give the fresh food boxes to anyone who is in need. The hubs aren’t requiring recipients to provide personal information. Slattery said Phase Two of the program will go through the end of August. Additionally, he hopes the program can continue to a third phase that will run through the month of October.
Slattery is appreciate of Lakewood willingness to help with the program. They have the resources and available staff to assist with such a large undertaking.
“I think one of the biggest challenges with the program nationwide is simply capacity. Many churches and facilities don’t have the refrigerators or space to store this fresh food. Fortunately, Lakewood has the infrastructure and ability to store food for this scale and volume,” Slattery said.
Pastor Osteen said his church was thrilled to be a part of such a great program. In fact, Lakewood and World Vision have been working together for the past 12 years on similar projects.
“There’s islands of food shortages all over the United States and they’re exacerbated by natural disasters and now the pandemic,” Osteen said. “As followers of Jesus, we must have our hearts open for those who are hungry and in need. We’re doing everything we can as individuals and the Body of Christ.”