Why a Church donation of 60 tons of food to Houston food banks is an example of ‘pure religion’

Just two weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated and delivered more than 60 tons of food to several local food banks in Houston, Texas.

From Nov. 6 -13, two truckloads were delivered to the Houston Food Bank, Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM) and the Montgomery County Food Bank. A third truckload was delivered to the Southeast Texas Food Bank and Some Other Place, a non-profit organization working in Beaumont to provide emergency assistance to that community.

“This (holiday season) is a joyful time for many people,” said Allison Hulett, CEO of the Montgomery County Food Bank in north Houston. “But for many it is also a time where, for some people, there are more expectations that they cannot meet for their family. So a donation like this enables those people to enjoy the holidays just like the rest of us.”

Along with the food donation, some 45 full-time missionaries from the Church were on hand helping to unload the trucks and stock the shelves at NAM. Sam Bikman, president of the Tomball Texas Stake, also provided and operated his own forklift to help unload the pallets.

Church volunteers pose for a group photo after helping deliver and stock a Church donation for Northwest Assistance Ministries in Houston, Texas, on Nov. 13, 2019.
Church volunteers pose for a group photo after helping deliver and stock a Church donation for Northwest Assistance Ministries in Houston, Texas, on Nov. 13, 2019. Credit: Amber Hagen

“There was such a wonderful energy,” said Bikman, speaking of the volunteers who were helping at NAM. “There was a great feeling of love, an excited energy, of knowing we were doing exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ would have us be doing for our brothers and sisters.”

Elder Sean Douglas, an Area Seventy in the North America Southwest Area, who lives in metro Houston, was instrumental in connecting with Church headquarters to coordinate this donation. He explained why the Church provides donations of this magnitude.

“This is an example of pure religion,” Elder Douglas said, referring to the scripture in James 1: 27 of the New Testament.  “We had opportunity to provide for organizations that are engaged in helping those in need. What a great blessing to be part of any organization that puts truth to action.”

Elder Douglas also expressed gratitude to the many volunteers that got involved on the ground and to all of the charitable organizations that do so much good for those in need. 

“The Church cares deeply about communities world wide,” he continued. “This is a demonstration of the love of God by reaching out and lifting up others. It’s a way for our church to be a part of that community outreach.”

Les Cave, CEO of Northwest Assistance Ministries said the supplies arrived at a time when the shelves were looking very bare, and everyone —including the volunteers — were apprehensive about the shortage for the upcoming holidays.

Missionaries from the Texas Houston Mission restock the shelves at Northwest Assistance Ministries with food supplies from a Church donation on Nov. 13, 2019.
Missionaries from the Texas Houston Mission restock the shelves at Northwest Assistance Ministries with food supplies from a Church donation on Nov. 13, 2019. Credit: Amber Hagen

“This was an unusual time,” Cave said. “The number of clients had increased, but the contributions from our typical donors had gone down. We were getting very worried. When we got the call that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wanted to donate 20,000 pounds of food, my jaw almost dropped to the ground.”

Cave was impressed with the Church’s donations, the volunteers and the speed in which both arrived.

“We feel very blessed. This definitely was an answer to many prayers,” he said.