History of IFM

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IFM Then

Interfaith Ministries ThenIn the late 1960’s a handful of Modesto congregations came together to have a discussion about the number of families that were continuously approaching their respective congregations requesting aid in the form of money and food. This group of congregations was known as the Greater Modesto Council of Churches – an organization that was formed in 1942.Their answer to this community dilemma was to create a Food Bank – a central location to which residents could go to receive food. First Presbyterian Church of Modesto volunteered a room where food could be brought and distributed. January of 1971 was the first official food collection and distribution – from churches to residents in need. A compassionate woman named Ruth Sesser, along with the help of Sharon Grassmeyer and Carolyn Osterholm managed the program in its entirety from Ruth’s office at Centenary United Methodist Church. The emergency Food Bank operated first from First Presbyterian Church, then at the College Avenue Congregational Church. Soon afterward, Empire Church of the Brethren opened a satellite Food Bank in their church building. This continued for several years under the Greater Modesto Council of Churches until enough financial and volunteer support was garnered to set up a Food Bank at a separate location.

In 1975, Ruth Sessor returned from the World Food Conference in Rome with determination in her heart to turn an emergency food handout into a self-help effort for the individuals and families served. Inter-Faith Ministries was birthed in June of 1975, at a meeting of the Greater Modesto Council of Churches. In December of 1975, a house was purchased in Modesto at 405 15th Street and Ruth Sessor’s dream became a reality with Inter-Faith Ministries Food Pantry. With the help of volunteers, congregations, and local businesses and organizations, Inter-Faith Ministries became more than merely an outlet for families in need of food; it became a haven for hope providing encouragement, education resources and referrals to enable families to strengthen, regroup and help themselves.

To further address the needs of homeless and low-income residents, The Community Clothes Closet was created a few years later. The Clothes Closet provided clothing at no cost for homeless and low-income residents throughout Modesto. Inter-Faith Ministries provided food, clothing and more often and not, a healing of the body, mind and spirit.


Interfaith Ministries NowInter-Faith Ministries was created in the late 1970’s as an answer to the cries of hunger from greater area Modesto residents. 40+ years later, Inter-Faith Ministries is still a leader in providing “no-cost” services to homeless and low-income residents throughout the Greater Modesto Area.

IFM’s steadfast commitment and proactive response to the community has resulted in an expansion of services and programs to include Redwood Family Center for women recovering from drug addiction and their children and Santa Fe Emergency Homeless Winter Shelter for homeless families with dependent children.

Inter-Faith Ministries is supported by 35 congregations representing a broad spectrum of the faith-based community including: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Greek Orthodox and Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The services and programs of IFM are manned primarily by a dedicated group of volunteers that generously give of their time, talent and heart. IFM is funded by donations from congregations, individuals, organizations, and local businesses, and community agencies, governmental and private grants. IFM is governed by a  Board of Directors.

Collaboratively, donors, volunteers, businesses, organizations, non-profits, government and congregations have come together to proactively combat the issues of hunger, homelessness and poverty. Together we have created a community of love and hope. We continue our work to meet not only today’s needs, but also as advocates changing the deeper structural causes of hunger, homelessness and poverty.

Until the day that each person has enough to eat, adequate clothing and shelter from the elements, we continue to walk with our sisters and brothers in a spirit of giving and hope.

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