The Bethlehem Food Pantry is a ministry of the Good Shepherd Ministry Center which is the Outreach Center for Foothills United Methodist Church in La Mesa. The pantry has a long history at the former El Cajon United Methodist Church and was reorganized and reopened in December 2017. It is managed by Certified Lay Ministers Theresa Erb and Susan Naslund.
Each week the Pantry provides a bag nourishing food to households in the community that present a need. Weekly distribution began with 39 bags the first week. In October 2019 we averaged 93 bags representing an average of 322 people served each week. That's a 138% increase in bags distributed.
In January 2019 the Bethlehem Food Pantry, in partnership with the San Diego Food Bank, began distributing commodities through the Neighborhood Distribution Program one Saturday each month. The values of the Neighborhood Monthly Distribution Program and the Bethlehem Food Pantry are in alignment as both distributions consist of fresh fruits and vegetables and provide healthy, nutrient-rich food to our clients. Both programs welcome anyone in need of food assistance. I.D. and documentation ARE NOT required, and there are no income or asset restrictions for either program.
Bethlehem Food Pantry has grown quickly in two short years and is in the process of relocating its distribution site to a larger area. Working with our partners The San Diego Food Bank, Feeding America and Leah’s Pantry, a section of the former Holmes Hall of the Ministry Center is being remodeled to accommodate the community need. We have received grants over the last two years from San Diego Food Bank, Feeding San Diego, the California-Pacific Conference of the UMC, and the Georgia Lynch Trust, as well as financial support from the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon and the Foothills UMC Missions Committee, the UMW, and many individual donors.
On Saturday, November 23 members, family and friends of La Jolla United Methodist Church are invited to help distribute the pantry’s monthly commodities shipment to the community of El Cajon. Volunteers are requested to arrive at the Bethlehem Food Pantry at 737 Grant Ave in El Cajon at 8 a.m. The distribution site will be set up and clear instructions will be given to all. Leaders of the Bethlehem Food Pantry including Theresa and Susan will be present. Please RSVP to Theresa if you plan to attend.