Action Ministries Houston has been helping low income families with food and essentials for 24 years — without fanfare, and without the support of government.
Working solely with volunteers — none, including the director, take a salary — the ministry picks up “expiring” food and other donated products from 40-to-50 grocery stores and several produce companies daily. The products are taken to battered-women shelters, women’s safe houses, drug and alcohol abuse centers, and church pantries in the greater Houston area. The ministry even has limited supply of groceries at its South Houston warehouse to give to individuals on an “as-needed” basis.
AMH is the “life-work” of directors Gordon and Pat Berg — a “calling,” as Pat describes it.
“We began in December 1990,” she says. “Gordon had been ill for several months and was told by a doctor he could not return to his job. Gordon felt a call from God and accepted. The next day, he notified the company he was working for that he was leaving to start the ministry.”
Working alone in the early days, Gordon and Pat began calling on grocery store managers, asking if the stores had anything they could donate. “It was through store managers that we began our pickups,” Pat explains. Other stores were added by referral.
Today, AMH operates a 5,500-sq. ft. warehouse in South Houston, with other rental units throughout the region, as needed. Through hard work, the ministry distributed more than 30 million pounds of food last year.
The “muscle” comes from more than 200 volunteers who contribute time during the week. The average age is 55, and includes children with parents as well as senior citizens.
No one receives a salary, but the ministry does require financial support. Funds for expenses are contributed by individuals, churches and organizations, and several grants. In-kind donations of clothing, furniture, vehicles, office furniture, and other items also come in through individuals and companies.
Is the effort making a difference? Yes, Pat will quickly tell you.
“Once Gordon received a call from one of our volunteers, telling about an elderly neighbor that was eating cat food because the woman could not afford groceries and medication. AMH supplied her with canned foods, vegetables, fruit and meat until she was able to get food stamps and assistance with her prescriptions.”
During the ministry’s first shoe drive, a school nurse called Pat with a story.
“The nurse told me that when she put a pair of shoes on a little girl and told the girl the shoes were hers to keep, the girl said, ‘Forever?’ The nurse said, ‘Yes, forever, until you outgrow them.’ The little girl said, ‘Oh, my mommy is going to be so happy! She has been praying to Jesus for me to have a new pair of shoes.’ We knew then that we were going to continue the shoe drive.”
There are needs, to be sure. AMH needs a larger, newer fork lift, and volunteers are always welcomed. But there are no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“In May, we will begin packaging a nutritional food product with enough vitamins and minerals to feed a child a balanced diet each day. We need volunteers and sponsors. The cost is $66 a box, which contains 216 children’s meals or 108 adult meals.”
Action Ministries dispels the myth that people live in silos and are indifferent to those in need around them.
“Other forms of ministry, such as Operation Christmas Blessing, have been brought to us by teachers, nurses, volunteers and others who see a need. Often God says, ‘Go!’ and we go!”