Matt Bussell at Neil’s Meals

After some opening words of welcome and a prayer, John Atkinson said “Go!” and more than150 people went into action Saturday morning packing 20,000 pounds of food into over 2,000 packages at Neil’s Meals.

There were people assembling the boxes, others bringing boxes to the food lines, others bagging rice, others lined up at five tables to fill the boxes with rice, mac and cheese, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots, others closing up the boxes and stacking them up, and others wrapping pallets of packed boxes and wheeling them outside.

In short, at 9:05 am on Saturday, the Mullin Life Center was a picture of organized chaos and energy.

Saturday was my first Neil’s Meals event since I arrived in June and I was struck not only by the amount of food packaged, but the fellowship that takes place as well. Here around the packing of boxes and the almost frantic energy, conversations were held and community was experienced. Old friends reconnected and shared stories. Strangers met and formed new connections.

Neil’s Meals is an intergenerational event with people of all ages helping as they are able. Elementary students worked side by side with octogenarians with a common purpose of feeding the hungry in our community. This truly is an event for the whole church community!

Neil’s Meals could not happen without our partner: Out of the Garden Project. Out of the Garden Project started when Kristy and Don Milholin felt called to provide food for families at their daughters’ elementary school. Starting with six families, an unexpected calling, and compassionate hearts, Out of the Garden Project has grown to serve six counties with millions of meals each year. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful partner committed to feeding our hungry neighbors! In helping feed the hungry, we are joining the work of God in the world and sharing God’s love with our neighbors.

In short, at Neil’s Meals we embodied what it means to be the church. We gathered as a community partner with those beyond our walls to join the work of God. It was a beautiful example of what it means to be the church and I can’t wait to do it again next spring!