Grant allows Heart-N-Hand to help the food insecure

Christel Deskins

There are big changes ahead for Heart-N-Hand Ministries in Belton, says Executive Director Alexis Butterfield. Courtesy photo Important changes are coming to a Belton food pantry, thanks to a grant intended to provide vital help during the current health crisis. Heart-N-Hand Ministries is one of the recipients in Cass County […]

There are big changes ahead for Heart-N-Hand Ministries in Belton, says Executive Director Alexis Butterfield.

There are big changes ahead for Heart-N-Hand Ministries in Belton, says Executive Director Alexis Butterfield.

Courtesy photo

Important changes are coming to a Belton food pantry, thanks to a grant intended to provide vital help during the current health crisis.

Heart-N-Hand Ministries is one of the recipients in Cass County — and nationwide — of support through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Food stability is a focused area for support, including using the money to help purchase commodities for meals and help enhance the ability to provide through food pantries.

“I know that there aren’t that many organizations doing what we do in Cass County and knew that grant funding would help us tremendously,” says Heart-N-Hand Ministries Executive Director Alexis Butterfield. “It’s been in our strategic plan for a while to expand our food pantry and now with this funding, we’ll be able to do just that.”

Butterfield says Heart-N-Hand received about $34,000 that will be used to deliver groceries to homebound and elderly clients, as well as complete the nonprofit’s plans to offer 120 more food pantry appointments a month. The nonprofit also will purchase new commercial-grade refrigerators and freezers.

“The biggest change coming because of this grant is that we’re now able to move our food pantry to a different location in the building to provide more space for our client-choice pantry as well as displays and shelving for us to provide more fresh produce to our clients each week,” Butterfield says, adding that space allows clients to shop for their own groceries each week.

“This is an essential step towards food stability for Cass County because when someone in need is able to have a dignified experience, they start to believe that their life is worth more, and that little bit of hope can start a massive change in their lives. We’ve seen it happen — and want to see it happen more.”

Heart-N-Hand’s food pantry serves about 40 families each week. Its mobile food pantry provides food to 600 to 1,200 people each month. In addition, the nonprofit offers a full Thanksgiving meal to more than 600 people every November, and its day center for the homeless serves lunch.

“People don’t realize the massive impact Heart-N-Hand is having in Cass County,” says Jonathan Klee, director of Missional Outreach at Vox Dei Community in Belton and a board member of Heart-N-Hand.

“This sounds amazing but in reality it’s incredibly sad at how endless the need is. Heart-N-Hand is definitely filling a huge need and they aren’t doing it alone as many churches, schools, individuals and other organizations in the area join in to pull all this off.”

Indeed, Heart-N-Hand has hundreds of volunteers who already have served more than 5,000 hours this year, Butterfield says.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we work with 15 plus local churches on a regular basis — both through volunteering and through giving,” Butterfield says.

Heart-N-Hand does more than provide food assistance.

Clients at the day center for the homeless can shower, apply for jobs, and meet with counselors and caseworkers, as well as Heart-N-Hand staff and volunteers. GED classes are also available.

Heart-N-Hand’s thrift store distributes more than 3,000 items per year for free and usually distributes about 2,500 toys to local children during the holiday season.

“Although the needs have kind of shifted over the last couple of months, and I really think we’re just now stepping into a season where we’ll truly see the need,” Butterfield says.

“With changes in unemployment and the ending of most grace periods for utilities and rent, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in those types of assistance requests.

“Many of the people that we work with have simply come into hard times and just need someone to believe that they can turn it around. Sometimes that happens through food pantry appointments, sometimes it’s our GED program or job training, sometimes it’s rehab. It’s different for every person but we want to stand in that gap.

“Over the course of the next few years it is our goal to drastically increase our services, which COVID-19 has proven are absolutely essential.”

Heart-N-Hand is located at 200 B St., Belton. For more information about the nonprofit, go to www.heartnhand.org

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