09 Feb Black History Month Highlight: Patricia & Eddie
Left to right Patricia Master and Eddie Hunter
Master’s Touch Ministry Makes its Mark
Patricia Master is the Assistant Coordinator. Eddie Hunter is the Pantry Coordinator. Together, they are building the church garden and the new children’s garden at Master’s Touch Ministry. They will soon be celebrating 50 years at the church.
What role has your church played in civil rights work in Jacksonville and/or in ensuring equitable access to food?
(Eddie): We make sure that they know about our history, what it is, and what it has been. We highlight the people that have contributed to where we are now.
Of course, we contribute food to this area, which is a food desert. People (here) don’t have access to fresh vegetables and fruits. We do our distributions at least three times a month, and we are also in the process of creating a garden by the pond outside our church. We want to make sure that people get what they need. It is an awesome feeling to make sure we are doing what the Lord wants us to do in this area.
What does the future of your church look like in the community? How are you currently thriving?
(Eddie): We’ve (been) here for 50 years, and by the grace of God, we’ll be here 50 more.
(Pat): We have dedicated people in our church who support us and what we are doing. As I said, in addition to the (food) pantry, we have our garden. We’ve had some ups and downs with little critters out there in the woods. But the Lord is blessing our work here, and the pantry is now flourishing. We average about 250 people a week for each food distribution. It is a lot of work, but we have food volunteers who are very dedicated, even people who don’t go to the congregation here.
How has your community garden project enabled you to talk about sustainable access to nutritious foods?
(Eddie): Sustainability is our goal because, a lot of times, you can not depend on vendors for fresh produce. This initiative that we got involved with actually is from a pastor in Baltimore, MA, Brother Heber Brown, who introduced us to the Black Church of Food Security Network. (The organization) encourages churches to use their vacant ground to produce food instead of grass, so that concept has caught on. We have about eight churches here in Jacksonville participating and numerous more up the east coast (and now nationwide).
They’ve supported us and have encouraged us with our past idea, which was a “Pot for Every Porch.” It gives seniors, children, and everyone the opportunity to participate in the garden.
(Pat): A lot of our members are seniors, and they’re not going to go out and dig in the dirt. So, a “Pot for Every Porch” was created so that everybody could participate. We got the baskets and the soil, the seeds and gloves, and the shovels, and we distributed them to everyone that wanted to participate. They would plant the seeds (at their homes), and when (the seeds bloomed) they brought them back. And we would put them in the (church) garden for them. That way, they could feel like they were a part of the garden even though they could not go out and dig in the dirt.
And now, as we press into 2023, we are starting the Children’s Garden, and we are pushing that… It helps young children appreciate growing a garden. (It helps them) know what the contents of the soil are. And have an appreciation for going to the grocery store where everything is not magically appearing on the shelves. We want to pull a lot of young children in a teach them about growing and planting their own food.
(Eddie): Jesus has given us this, and we are trying to be the best stewards of what he has given us. We don’t want to take it for granted. We want to make every use of it that we can. And leave a legacy.