HARLINGEN — A food pantry welcomed residents at Faith Pleases God Church, but this Friday was different.

Amid concerns over COVID-19, Pastor Kevin Ortiz said it was decided to deliver groceries as a drive-through and curbside option.

The initial time for the pantry to open was at 10 a.m., but people began to arrive an hour or two early.

Ruben Reyna, Food Bank Director, said by 9 a.m. 600 people were already waiting.

A system was created as a precaution. Once vehicles arrived, a number was given to them to indicate how many grocery bags were needed per family.

Each bag contained the same quantity of food but depending on the necessities and number of families, bags are given, said Reyna.

Before, there were requirements to apply for the food bank such as proof of salary. Those requirements are currently being waived due to the necessity.

“We just need a name, address, how many people live in the household and amount of salary each month,” he said.

“The application lasts for a year. Families can come every Friday for a year after applying,” Reyna said.

Groceries varied from canned goods, featuring salmon, chicken, garbanzo beans, corn, tomato sauce and pasta, as well as rice.

Every volunteer handing out grocery bags wore gloves and practiced social distancing to honor CDC guidelines.

An estimated 1,500 families were served during the food bank drive-through.

Juany Calderon, of Harlingen, said she was told to attend the food bank and said she did not mind waiting an hour or more for her grocery bag.

“When I arrived and saw so much people I thought it would be chaos but they are very well organized,” she said.

Her husband had recently lost his job and because of her current needs she decided to go, she said.

Constable Eddie Solis from Precinct 5 along with other officers were in attendance to help alleviate the traffic and make sure no accidents occurred.

Live Streaming Services

Due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s ordering for no gatherings of 10 or more people, the church decided to live stream all their services, as well as other churches in Cameron County.

Besides live streaming, a drive-in service will also be offered on Sunday with a bilingual service at 11 a.m.

The church is located at 4501 W. Expressway 83 in Harlingen and people are encouraged to attend the service from the comfort of their vehicles, said Ortiz.

“We want to be good citizens and follow the direction of our leaders who have been given the responsibility of keeping us safe,” Ortiz said.

“We are following the guidance of our local leaders and we are not stopping what we do. We continue to minister and preach as much as possible,” he said.

Online services have been offered for a while but Ortiz said now the purpose is to encourage the community to stay home.

“I consider it to be a great blessing to be a leader and a pastor to help calm fears and build faith, to encourage them to rest in God,” he said.

Ortiz goes on air twice a day to preach as much as possible on the church’s Facebook page.

Ortiz said once everything is clear, service every night will be done to get together with the community again.

Another alternative given by Ortiz to use is an app called JesusPod where pastors from different parts of the world are featured, which can be downloaded on Google Apps.

“One of our missions is to make the gospel available to people,” he said.

“We want to keep families safe but bless them and protect them, too,” Ortiz said.

Faith Pleases God Church

4501 W Expressway 83

Harlingen

Drive in bilingual service will be offered Sunday at 11 a.m. and live streamed.

Online service at fpgchurch.com

Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Valley Christian Assembly

Live stream on Facebook Sunday at 10 a.m.

San Benito First Presbyterian Church

Live stream video on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on Facebook page.

Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church

Live Stream Sunday Worship at 10 a.m. on Facebook page.

First Christian Church Harlingen

Live stream Sunday at 11 a.m. on Facebook page.

Calvary Baptist Church (Harlingen)

Sunday service at 10:45 a.m.

Christian Fellowship Church

http://cfcharlingen.com/watch-live

Sunday at 10 a.m.

CROSS CHURCH RGV San Benito

Facebook Live: https://buff.ly/3a1omlM

YouTube Live: https://buff.ly/3ddhhAB

Live Stream: https://buff.ly/2J1yPlj

Saturday 7 p.m. – English

Sunday 9 a.m.- English

11 a.m. – English

1 p.m. – Spanish