Ponca City Church gives away food for families in need

by Jordan Green

For the second time since the coronavirus pandemic began, a Ponca City church is giving away roughly 600 boxes of food to local families in need.

Michael Cramer, pastor of the Ponca City Church, said his congregation has received hundreds of boxes of food under a program administered by the federal government. His church gave away 600 boxes of food in mid-June, and he hopes to give away just as many boxes Saturday.

Each box contains fresh produce, dairy products, and other food items, Cramer said.

“As part of the farm-to-table initiative, the federal government is subsidizing dairy farmers and produce farmers because they were throwing out their crops due to COVID-19 and not being able to get them to market,” Cramer said. “The government stepped in and said, ‘Hey, we’ll buy up all this product, and then we’re going to just give it away for free.”

The church is working with a group called 180 Disaster Relief, a Tulsa-based non-profit organization, to help distribute the food. The disaster relief organization will deliver the boxes of food in a refrigerated semi-truck, and the church will store it in another refrigerated trailer.

“We’ve got roughly 600 boxes,” Cramer said. “They’re about 20 pounds each of dairy products and produce. We’re going to be giving that away to our community. There’s absolutely no strings attached. Just come and get food. Each box should feed a family of five to six people.”

Cramer’s parishioners teamed up with four other churches in town to help distribute food in June, forming partnerships that he hopes will continue into the future.

“We’re happy to work with any church that would be happy to work with us, and we welcome anybody and everybody,” he said. “We just feel like this is a way to bless our community. I think these other churches feel the same way.”

The Ponca City Church is a part of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a worldwide network of churches. 180 Disaster Relief officials contacted church leaders, who mobilized their congregations to help distribute food.

Some local companies have stepped up to help the church. Albertsons, a major U.S. grocery store chain, donated $8,000 worth of canned beans to the church in June, Cramer said. The company donated an entire pallet containing gravy packets to the church for Saturday’s give-away.

Cramer said food is available to anyone from the area, not just Ponca City residents.

Church members will work to minimize person-to-person contact in an effort to keep workers and families safe from the spread of the coronavirus, the pastor said.

“We’re going to be setting it up so that people can literally just drive in,” Cramer said. “We can put the box in their trunk, in their car, and that way we can adhere to social distancing protocols in place and keep people safe.”

He hopes that his church’s efforts will have a positive impact on the community for years to come.

“My wife and I, we’re brand new to the city, and we came here because we felt like God was calling us to serve where He wanted us to serve,” Cramer said in a recent interview with the Journal-Tribune. “This opportunity became available. We just have a heart to see people in our community being cared for and loved. Christ’s message said that, if you see a brother or sister that need clothes and they need food, and you just tell them to go on their way, you haven’t really helped them. Our goal and our hope here is to have a long-term outreach to the community that helps people in concrete, positive ways, and that at the same time, we can help them with their spiritual life as well.”

Church members will distribute food at the church at 701 W. Chestnut Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information about the church, visit https://poncacitychurch.com.