The Vineyard Ministries in Hampton, Virginia has opened a non-profit grocery store. Originally intended to help its members, last year the church opened the store to all people in their community. So far the store has helped 10,000 families.
“In the richest country in the world, there should not be a need,” Pastor Jacob Hopson told a local news station. “There should not be a child that looks forward to school because they know that’s the only meal they’re going to get.”
The need for affordable, fresh food is acutely felt in Hampton. While 11 percent of people in Virginia are “food insecure” (not knowing where their next meal will come from), according to the Foodbank of America, in Hampton 16-26 percent of the population is food insecure. Vineyard Ministries’ store, called The Storehouse, carries fruit, vegetables, meat, and dry goods at low prices to combat this food insecurity.
On the church’s website, the goal of The Storehouse is articulated: “The objective is to take your food budget from $600+ and cut it in half with the best and freshest food available.”
Pastor Hopson says the store is for everyone, not just low-income families or Christians. The church opened the store in 2015 (the same year the church started) and invited its members to shop once a month. When they saw how much it was helping their members, they decided to open it up to the community. Currently, donations and money raised through Vineyard Ministries pays for the food. But Pastor Hopson hopes the store will pay for itself one day.
The store is the first non-profit grocery store in Virginia. Looking to the future, Pastor Hopson is hoping to continue to help Hampton with a half acre of land for farming and a trailer for growing hydroponics.
While opening a grocery store might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of community outreach, it does seem to line up with the mission of Vineyard Ministries. The church is “more concerned about building its members than a building.” What better way to build up their members and help their community than meeting a very practical need?
James 2:16 comes to mind with the Vineyard Ministries’ outreach efforts: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”