A door to giving

Posted: September 15th, 2017 | Allied Gardens, Communities, Features, News, Top Stories | No Comments

By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

Ascension Lutheran Church starts a community pantry

If you happen to drive or walk north on 51st Street from Zion Avenue in Allied Gardens, you’ll see what looks at first to be a very ornate, somewhat oversized mailbox, built to look like a miniature of Ascension Lutheran Church.

It’s not.

Pastor Rick Fry stocks cans in the Ascension Lutheran Church food pantry. (Photo by Doug Curlee)

What you’re seeing is a very small community food pantry, with the aim of storing food that anyone who needs food to eat can access by simply opening the door.

More to the point, what you’re seeing is the faith of the pastor of Ascension Lutheran, Rick Fry.

“The whole idea is based on Jesus feeding the multitudes,” he said. “Part of any ministry should be about feeding the hungry, of which there are all too many in San Diego. People who really need something to eat can simply come to the pantry and take what they need. Right now, it’s only canned food, but hopefully that will grow.”

The food pantry is shaped like a miniature Ascension Lutheran Church. (Photo by Doug Curlee)

Another advantage to the pantry is that people can stop by any time and get food they need without having to talk to a person. Sometimes people who need help are too embarrassed to visit a food bank and have to ask another person for the food they need.

The other side of the coin — and something that Fry hopes and believes will happen — is that people can come to the pantry and leave food items for those less fortunate.

“We’d very much like to see it happen both ways, and we believe it will.”

Community pantries are not something we see a whole lot of in our area. They are more prevalent in areas like the South and Northeast. Fry got the idea from a Facebook post he read online from a pastor in Arkansas.

The Ascension pantry officially opened just after Labor Day.

Ascension Lutheran has a number of programs aimed at feeding the poor in addition to the brand new pantry program, including a monthly food distribution on the first Friday of each month.

“We get as many as a hundred families at that event,” Fry said. “There are people in our immediate area who need the help. That’s what we’re here for.”

Fay has an even bigger vision — one of community gardens and involvement of other churches and faiths in more aggressive programs to feed more people.

“We have a ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) right close to us, and we’ve been talking with them about joint efforts. We’ll see where that goes,” he said.

Are a lot of people going to be fed from that small box on a pole? No, not many, but for Fry, that’s not the point.

The point is that something small can grow into something big, and that’s what he’s hoping for.

—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at

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