By Valley Ag Voice Staff
It was already a very warm Saturday in July, but over 50 volunteers were setting up to distribute boxes of Fresh Food to over 600 families in need. Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry gathers the third Saturday of every month to pack and distribute boxes to local non-profits, churches, and individuals that have a food need in our community.
The operation was impressive with two assembly lines set up and massive amounts of fresh meat, fruits and vegetables to load in the boxes. Volunteers were eager to start and many were asking questions about how to pack their boxes.
Bret Sill, the founder of Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry, lead the group in a prayer before they started packing the boxes. Just as the blessing finished, the food line distribution began, and to hear the chatter and cohesive work taking place it was clear that God’s love was going into every box.
After the packing line was moving along as a well-oiled machine, Valley Ag Voice had a few minutes to visit with Bret Sill and ask about the origins of this amazing fresh food distribution program.
Sill started Morning Star in 2013 by packing boxes for 32 families, but it took God’s intervention to make it a reality. “I was in the produce business in Georgia when my wife introduced me to Jesus,” Sill humbly stated. “We were going through a tough financial time, and we were actually trying to move back to California. I found myself on a long plane ride and God gave me the vision to take what I learned in the produce business to serve others in God’s glory,” Brett added.
Sill took that vision, his knowledge of the produce business, and a year of planning to create Morning Star Fresh Food Ministry.
Brett doesn’t do it alone; he utilizes his contacts with local growers to donate the fresh fruits and vegetables that go into many of the boxes. Local growers like Grimmway, Bolthouse, Pandol, Kirschenman, Anthony Vineyards, and Giumarra are just a few of his partners. What he doesn’t get donated, he is able to purchase and provide all the boxes free of cost to families in need.
Many folks donate monthly to sponsor boxes for families and some often purchases boxes for their own families. The boxes cost roughly $40 dollars to assemble. With this month’s box weighing in at about 30 lbs. and packed with fresh goodness, steaks and sausage, this box is full of nourishment and information on how Christ can influence everyone’s life.
With COVID-19 the ministry is reliant on more volunteers. They have had to modify their distribution techniques so that all of the food distribution can be done while keeping everyone safe.
Jon Woodruff is one of those consistent volunteers who started helping in 2015. He took a break from loading cars to share that he volunteers every month. “God gave me a gift to serve, and Bret opened the door so I could serve,” exclaimed Woodruff.
About 25 cars had already lined up when distribution was underway, and volunteers were packing church vans as full as they could. Miranda Cisneros with New Life Church was the passenger in a car with 16 boxes. New Life Church has its own robust food distribution program and they have partnered with Morning Star for six years. “These boxes help families that need food. If we can help the families pick up the boxes we will,” stated Miranda.
Morning Star also likes to partner with many local non-profit organizations. This month’s sponsor was JJ’s legacy. This has been a longtime partnership between JJ’s and Morning Star. In fact, Bret Sill’s aunt Lori Malkin is the founder of JJ’s Legacy. “The hope Christ gives you is a perfect partnership for helping donor recipients,” Malkin stated. “I have delivered boxes and been invited into people’s homes. We get to meet them and pray with them”
Like any non-profit they have needs. Bret commented at one point as he addressed the crowd, “We had hoped to register our delivery truck this year, but were told it is no longer CARB compliant. Looks like we need to get a new truck.”
The impressive impact that Morning Star has had is due to the vision of Bret, but also to the countless number of supporters and volunteers that make it happen. If you want to get involved in any way by volunteering, donating, or referring a family in need, please visit the Morning Star website at www.morningstarfresh.org.