Volunteers at Faith Cowboy Church of Desloge are coming together to provide free food for the area through its new Heartland Caring and Sharing program.
The church had an opportunity to receive its first supply of fresh produce last week and spent Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. giving it away to anyone in need.
"We have an opportunity to get produce a couple of times a week and we just get it and bless the people of the community with it," Dean Wampler said. "We are based through Faith Cowboy Church and we are blessed to get a lot of product from Convoy of Hope."
According to their website, Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that has helped more than 80 million people around the world by providing food, water, emergency supplies, knowledge and opportunities.
"We have a couple warehouses that we pick the food up from over in Illinois and they may have 100 cases of this or 50 cases of this and there are other churches involved with it also and they get product as well," Wampler said. "It's a much bigger deal."
Wampler said one of the missions of Faith Cowboy Church is to spread caring and sharing throughout the Heartland and they wanted to branch off of that for the name.
"We are going to go with Heartland Caring and Sharing that way people will have something to tie it to on Facebook when they are looking," Wampler said. "It's all in great deal with what our pastor does for our church and for the community."
"We never know for sure what we are going to have," Wampler said. "We are a little bit new. We just picked up our first two shipments of it but we have been told by the place we pick up from that they don't have people who can pick up all the time and we are fortunate that we are able to go get it and do what we can do and bless the people with it."
The organization plans to pick different places throughout the St. Francois County area and to keep the community informed of locations through their Facebook page.
"We are already trying to figure out where we are going to be next weekend," Wampler said. "We never know for sure what we are going to have. We are just trying to do what God want us to do and to bless everyone we can."
The stand had items such as cauliflower, tomatoes, red peppers, jalapenos, onions, lettuce, and non produce items like granola bars, bread, mayonnaise and licorice.
Additional items are collected through Convoy of Hope and the church's bread ministry.
"This event will be weekly and our bread ministry we do every Monday," Wampler said. "Sometimes they will go up and bring back five or 10 thousand loaves of bread and spend the entire evening Monday and Tuesday delivering bread."
The church has been doing the bread ministry for a year and a half now and it distributes bread to other churches, food pantries, the women's shelter in Bonne Terre and several foster homes.
Wampler said that several thousand pounds of produce were on-hand Saturday and by noon they had already gone through a tremendous amount of it.
"This is our first time actually doing it like this," Wampler said. "We would get smaller portions in the past that we would distribute through the food pantry."
Any leftover produce is taken to a food pantry or any place in need.
Wampler said that there is no qualifications to get the free food. All you have to do is come and get it. He said that you don't have to be poor or in any particular situation to be in need.
"If they aren't having to spend money on lettuce and tomatoes it frees up some money for other things," Wampler said. "It's to the public and it is for anybody who is in need."
When asked if the group will continue to add more free food choices Wampler said, "It depends on God's plan and what he has laid out for us."
"We have a lot of men and women of the church that make this possible," Wampler said. "That's what it is all about - the team work. That's what gets the public aware and it makes a lot of difference."
"It is awesome you know because like I said it helps to get it out there and it (doesn't just) have to be here in St. Francois County," Wampler said. "If you are in Madison County, Iron County or anywhere around, we wanted to specify the Heartland because it reaches out around the area."
For more information about the Heartland Caring and Sharing program through Faith Cowboy Church, find them on Facebook.