In 2003, New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church purchased a small apartment building on North Dunleith Avenue. The building was retrofitted and the following year opened as the church’s food pantry where it served as part of the church’s goal of providing assistance to community residents who needed a boost.

Fifteen years later, New Jerusalem has continued its mission to serve the needs of the community. In January, the church held a dedication ceremony and cut the ribbon on a new food pantry, also on North Dunleith Avenue. The idea for a new and improved food pantry was conceived by then-pastor Rev. Samuel J. Cornelius, who retired in 2014.

The 4,100-square-foot edifice was built by J.R. Williford Builders of Clemmons; Sammy Cornelius Jr. was the architect. The nearly all-brick building replaces the smaller structure and allows the church to continue to serve the surrounding community in a more effective and efficient manner, according to church Deacon James Paul, who presided over the building project.

When the first pantry opened, he said, the church served about 3,000 meals per month. Now, however, the church serves more than 20,000 meals per month and needed a new facility to accommodate the growth. He said that about 75 percent of the food supply for the pantry comes from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C. and the rest of it is purchased and donated.

Among the speakers at the January 27 dedication ceremony were: Winston-Salem Mayor J. Allen Joines, State Sen. Paul Lowe Jr., Tracey Doss of the Second Harvest Food Bank, and Winston-Salem Assistant Police Chief Wilson S. Weaver. Following the dedication inside the church, which was presided over by Pastor Ronald E. Speas, participants and community members left the church and preceded to the food pantry for the laying of the cornerstone. The cornerstone dedication was presided over by 30th District Prince Hall Masons and was attended by N.C. Prince Hall Grand Master Daniel “DT” Thompson.

According to the New Jerusalem website, the food pantry provides “supplemental food assistance to individuals and families who are unable to financially meet their daily nutritional requirements…and our food assistance program is intended as a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘handout’ in helping individuals and families achieve greater stability in their lives.” The site also says it is “committed to providing the greatest degree of confidentiality with the least amount of information being requested.”

The food pantry is open every Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and serves over 1,000 clients per month. The church does not restrict the food needs based on the size of the families, so the amount of food varies per client. The food pantry is located at 1227 N. Dunleith Ave.