Calera First United Methodist Church emergency assistance.

Calera First United Methodist Church is focused on helping the disadvantaged. The organization is involved in the administration of various short and long term programs, ranging from free groceries or food items to other basic needs such as clothing. While more limited, there may also be financial assistance available in the greater Shelby County Alabama region.

There are a number of food banks in the area. A so called Food Exchange Network is made up on various distribution centers, ranging from pantries to soup kitchens. They operate using a unique collaborative model that can lead to less waste.

Referrals to the centers may come from many places varying from churches to local social service agencies. Clients of any soup kitchen or pantry are seen on a first come, first served basis. They need to bring proper identification and proof of residency. Calera First United Methodist Church trained interviewers assess each applicant. They will assess the situation to determine how clients can best be served. Based on the results of that, boxes of groceries are passed out and will be customized to the specific needs of each household.

The programs are focused on assisting those that lack access to affordable food items. Pantries may have everything from free fruits, whole grains, low-fat milk, vegetables, baby formula and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet. These can be used to help fill the gap in what public aid, such as SNAP food stamps, do not address.

Residents across that are living in poverty may shopping using an EBT card, but the fact is those are not enough. They often need to also rely on food banks such as those from Calera First United Methodist Church to meet additional needs. There are many pantries in the Columbiana Alabama area that families can turn to.

Calera First United Methodist Church Food Bank is a client choice pantry. People of all backgrounds and religions can use the center, providing them meet income criteria and can show they have a need for support. Studies prove that the client choice model from non-profits such as Calera First United Methodist Church create less waste from the traditional food box model as those who “shop” there select only what they need.

The intent of the pantry is to help during times of short term, financial crisis. They are not long term solutions. It will work by providing free, nutritious perishable and non-perishable groceries. Depending on the applicant's needs, there will also be household items, clothing, winter coats, bread, milk, and toiletries.




There will be a Full Food Order given out. This will provide a family with all of the groceries they need, and it will last a few days. There are also special needs met, such as what a senior may require or single moms for new infants. Each nutritionally complete order is tailored to the size and needs of the applying household. In addition to food, orders include basic needs such as toiletries.

Holiday Food Baskets are distributed during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. While the contents will vary based on donation levels and collections that occur, the goal is to have them contain everything needed to cook a traditional holiday meal. So they may have hams, turkey, dressings, and like items. Some will contain small presents for children from low income families too. Clients are required to pre-register/sign up to receive a holiday basket on a specified day, and it will be given to them for free based on donation levels.

Senior sacks are passed out too. This is often run in partnership with the Seniors Meals on Wheels Program. Calera First United Methodist Church and its volunteers provide the elderly and their spouses with free groceries for weekend meals. There will also be some frozen items passed out that a home bound senior or disabled person can quickly reheat at their convenience.

Long term solutions in Shelby County and the state of Alabama are met by SNAP food stamps. There is also the FSET - Food Stamp Employment and Training Program. The goal is to help low income individuals, and it can assist them with their food needs as they apply for cash assistance. Other resources include  job search and employment enhancing activities (such as those below) that will lead to self-sufficiency and an exit from public assistance.

Adult education as well as job placement are offered at various locations. The goal is to assist individuals in earning a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).  For those from the greater Shelby County area who did not complete high school and receive a degree, then these GED classes can fill the gap. After all, this is one of the single most important steps people can take to improve their employment prospects. It will help clients increase their income and move out of poverty.




While much more limited, financial assistance from Calera First United Methodist Church may be available by appointment only. Emergency financial aid, in the form of a cash grant, is available to qualifying residents to help with essential living expenses. There may be funds for rent, utility bills, or a portion of a mortgage. Or people who lack insurance can get help with any medications.

The focus of the monetary support from Calera First United Methodist Church is to provide needed aid for a temporary crisis situation, and it is a hand up and no a hand out. Clients referred to the non-profit organization are interviewed by trained staff to see if they are qualified for a grant. If that is not an option, then loans may be used. Clients of the church must provide proof of residence as well as a income, ID, and more for each household member. If found to be eligible, payments are made directly to the creditor or landlord. Also, assistance is limited and is offered first come and served. For more information, dial (205) 668-0951.


By Jon McNamara

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