“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer”
St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Benicia, the third oldest Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Northern California, was established on February 13, 1855. The church has had a long and successful relationship with the Benicia population, and has proven to be a pillar of the community for the past 166 years. But recently, St. Paul’s has become a lifeline for many local residents, thanks to their free meal and food giveaway programs.
Prior to the Covid outbreak, St. Paul’s gave away 75 free community meals once a week.
Since February of 2020, that number has increased to 350 meals a week, served Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:30- 6:00 pm. St. Paul’s has no requirements or proof of residency in order to participate, and no questions are asked prior to being served. The church management simply feeds the hungry who show up at the assigned time.
The church has also seen an increase in donations since the arrival of Covid. Eighteen months ago, St Paul’s received $2,000 per year in donations for charitable giving, and that amount has increased to $2,000 per month. The contributions, both monetary and edible, come from local businesses and individuals that sponsor the biweekly meals and other outreach activities. These businesses include Sandoval’s, One House Bakery, Fox and Fawn Bakehouse, Solano Real Estate Association, Twin Oaks Real Estate, Farm and Flour, and other downtown businesses.
The Benicia Kiwanis Club, the Heritage Presbyterian Church, and Twin Oaks Realty have volunteers who have joined with volunteers from St. Paul’s, who manage the biweekly meals held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. These dedicated folks set up and serve meals, and then clean up afterwards. They have been trained in safe food handling, they plan the meals, pick up donations at the local Food Bank, and are the recipients of a grant from the Redwoods Hunger Task Force that expands the food programs beyond what the budget supports. It is extremely heartening to see how people work together to feed people during this pandemic.
Besides the biweekly meals, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has also scheduled Groceries Giveaways and Fresh Food Giveaways that feature produce from the Community Garden. These opportunities are popular and help keep people fed.
A Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings is scheduled for Wednesday, November 24, 2021. If you are interested in donating or assisting in some way to this event, or other events and activities, feel free to contact the church at 707.745.0307, or visit the website at stpaulsbenicia.org.