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Mt. Zion Ministries hosts first of two April food drives

Rain doesn’t extinguish generous spirit as food drive benefits hundreds of local residents

By Noah Johnson

LANSING, Ill. (April 12, 2021) – Mt. Zion UFL Ministries in Lansing held the first of two food drives slated for this month on April 10.

At the drive-thru event, cars wrapped along 177th Street as volunteers worked to distribute 1,400 boxes of food, each containing $40 worth of produce, meat, dairy, and other products. The food drive was part of a partnership with the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program. The program aims to provide access to fresh and wholesome food during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food Drives
Volunteers were prepared for the rain as they filled cars with food boxes during Saturday’s food drive at Mt. Zion UFL Ministries. (Photo: Noah Johnson)
Food Drive
Food recipients were lined up on 177th Street on Saturday. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“Compelled by compassion”

Mt. Zion pastor J. Raphael Leon said he and the ministry have been “compelled by compassion” to help those in need during the pandemic.

“It started off with seeing a few homeless people that needed help and then it escalated, escalated, escalated,” he said. “[This was] something that we didn’t plan and it’s something that simply occurred based upon the need.”

More than a pantry

And the need for events like the food drive is great, Leon added. Prior to the event, a step the ministry took to help was upgrading its micro pantry to include refrigerated items and other necessities.

The ministry’s units are available on a 24-hour emergency basis and consist of food, perishable items, clothes, blankets and personal items, according to Betty Burley, church secretary. She said about 500 people are helped each month and about an estimated $2,000 to $3,000 in groceries go into the pantry each week.

But after continuing to notice many people who have fallen on hard times, Leon said he and the ministry wanted to do more.

Food Drive
Volunteers worked to distribute 1,400 boxes of food during the first food drive. The second, scheduled for April 24, is set to give away 1,000 boxes. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“Several people have lost their jobs, they don’t have any food, they’re being evicted. So we said we have to do something more than just be here and look pretty,” he said.

The ministry will distribute another 1,000 boxes of food on April 24. No ID is required and all are welcome to take part in the food giveaway at the Mt. Zion UFL center, which is located at 2340 177th Street, Lansing IL.


Those interested in donating to the ministry’s “24hr Mall Pantry” can put items directly into the units outside of the center. Burley said larger donations can be left beside the door after hours.

For more information, call 708-394-3555.


Noah Johnson
Noah Johnson
Noah Johnson is a journalist from Dolton, Illinois. In addition to the reporting he has done for The Lansing Journal, Noah has covered issues in Northern Illinois, North Carolina, and suburban Cook County. In his free time he enjoys listening to podcasts, cooking, and journaling.