Our plans are usually not God's plans. Don Owen, director of God's Warehouse, in Morristown, Tennessee will tell you that. Owen is one of 850 volunteers in his area that serve Nolachucky Baptist Association. There are several arms to their ministries - one being disaster relief.
"Quite honestly, we let the Lord direct our path," Owen says.
As the COVID-19 virus expanded the disaster relief part of Nolachucky Baptist Association decided to start preparations. One way to do that was to purchase Tender Mercies from Midwest Food Bank. Tender Mercies is a low-cost, highly nutritious meal packet that consists of high grade rice, pre-cooked pinto beans, soy protein and fortified chicken seasoning. One packet feeds four people at 15 cents per meal.
"We purchased 10 pallets to have in reserve due to the present virus crisis," Owen says. Little did we know that within 3 days all the pallets would be taken to help with feeding the school children, now out of school, and senior citizens who have been advised to stay at home."
Ten pallets of Tender Mercies equals 105,600 meals.
The Tennessee Baptist Relief units are now operating two feeding units and the Tender Mercies packets help in those efforts.
"One director told me how great it was to have the Tender Mercies meals and that the people were enjoying them not only because they taste good but because they are easy to prepare," Owen said. The volunteer cooks at these feeding units often add vegetables and other ingredients.
Food pantries and organizations like Nolachucky Baptist Association receive many types of food products free of charge from Midwest Food Bank. In and effort to have a shelf stable product available at all times, MFB developed the Tender Mercies meal packet. It is available to purchase, at the cost it takes to produce it.
"Having these on the shelf in our warehouse is something we hope will be a standard going forward," says Owen. Thanks to Midwest Food Bank for the foresight in having these available."
How did MFB and Nolachucky Baptist Association start working together? Already a partner agency of MFB Georgia, Owen said he was trying to start disaster relief efforts and was presented with some hurdles. Through an acquaintance he was introduced to Tender Mercies. The meals he received were packaged at MFB Morton.
"God said, 'back off and get out of the way. I'll take care of it,'" Owen says.
Food pantries and ministries are seeing ways to utilize Tender Mercies meals in a variety of ways including disaster relief. Please contact MFB to learn more about how to acquire these meal packets.