In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rock Church’s Provisions Outreach Ministry began serving East County residents in need of food and other items at its East County last year.
Pastor Zeb Hill, who oversees Provision Ministry of Rock Church said it is serving the large community consisting of Santee, Lakeside, La Mesa, Spring Valley, El Cajon and more because they found that there were many families in need, especially with the pandemic resulting in many job losses and unemployment.
Hill said they already had a great relationship with the city of El Cajon and the new food distribution of goods in East County began organically. The ministry had already been doing its Provision Ministry at its San Marcos campus for quite a while, but a grant from the city of El Cajon of $55,000 gave it a kick start in serving under-served families with food. With the first grant, it held a huge kick off serving 565 families in one day. With a second round of grants from the County, the city of El Cajon provided Provision Ministry with another $45,000 and provided for another 480 families.
“Because of that, one of our team members, her heart just broke for the need that all the families in East County that had needs,” said Hill. “Her name is Terrie Young, and she came to me and wanted to start a Provision Ministry chapter in El Cajon. She said she saw so much need here and wanted to be part of the solution. She did the leg work, made the connections with the San Diego Food Bank up in Mira Mesa. We had established that relationship with our other two campuses in San Marcos and City Heights.”
On Nov. 3, 2020 Provision Ministry began its East County distribution that is held every third Tuesday each month. Hill said it went so well, they began receiving donations from people and organizations from all over who wanted to help the need by providing more resources.
“We also connected with a diaper organization that gives diapers to us,” he said. “We connected with an organization that provides us with produce boxes, I Love to Glean in South Bay. Not only to we provide through the drive through nonperishables through the food bank, but we also get a 30 pound produce box from anywhere between 250 and 300 boxes to provide to families. On the Provision food distribution, we gave out more than 11, 700 pounds of food. It has been consistent every month because of the people that are willing to give for the cause of this community.”
Hill said it also partnered with DoorDash, where drivers come by and pick up for multiple households and delivers to families without transportation.
“It is a great thing to see multiple organizations coming together for the cause to serve people in this region,” said Hill.
Hill said that he said the ministry and opportunity to keep providing for the under-served in East County will not go away, even after the pandemic.
“I think that the pandemic highlighted the need and it organically forced us to think outside of the box and think innovatively,” said Hill. “I believe that there are families that are still always in need. The Rock Church, our community and our congregation, always want to go where the need is. Regardless of your beliefs, everybody wants to be part of something greater for a greater cause and everybody wants to be able to help somebody. The common denominator is helping others and being a blessing to those that are in need.”
Hill said that there is a great need for more churches, organizations, and local farmers to partner with Provision Ministries, as sometimes there is a lack of resources. At the December drive through event, I Love to Glean’s resources were short, so they were unable to get produce at that time. He said it is the same with the Food Bank when it runs short on resources.
“Anyone that is out there that has the ability to sow into organizations like the San Diego Food Bank and I Love to Glean and organizations like that, I believe that it would help organizations have access to food to be able to distribute to others,” said Hill. “They can donate directly because we have to pay the Food Bank, the other organizations that we get our resources from. Donations are a blessing, and it helps us to serve the community.”
Provision Outreach Ministry East County distributes every third Tuesday of the month from noon-2 p.m., or until supplies last. Anyone in need is eligible. The distribution takes place at Rock Church East County, 808 Jackman Street in El Cajon. To donate directly or become a community partner, visit www.sdrock.com/ministries/provisions/partnergive.