Pastor Mike Farmer and his team at Crossroads United Methodist Church in Canton is on a mission to provide food for families. But this passion is bigger than just providing food; they are on a mission to provide justice.

“We believe that everyone has the right and dignity of having access to fresh and healthy foods so they can be a thriving part of society,” Pastor Mike said. “People who are in poverty deserve access to healthy food just like everyone else.”

That’s why Crossroads started its Fresh Market in November 2020, a hunger-relief program that distributes fresh produce like corn and watermelon, among other nourishing groceries.

“We serve people that have dietary restrictions and others who don’t eat certain foods because of their religion,” Pastor Mike said. “Whatever it might be, we want to give people the dignity of choosing their own food and choosing what they need for their family.”

Prior to opening Fresh Market, Crossroads distributed shelf-stable items and canned goods to the community on a weekly basis through a more traditional food pantry. But when Pastor Mike learned that Canton ranks second in the country for childhood poverty, he began collaborating with other clergy members in the area to reach more neighbors and provide better access to food. That, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted churches to take action.

“We really started to put our heads together to see how to help break that cycle,” Pastor Mike said.

At least 700 people receive groceries every month at the Fresh Market since it opened. These individuals have a place to turn during their time of need because of the community’s generosity that help the Foodbank supply Crossroads’ Fresh Market with fresh, nourishing produce.

“I don’t think we could have the volume or the diversity of produce that we have if we tried doing this on our own,” said Pastor Mike. “The Foodbank has definitely been a blessing.”