"Miracles when you move; such an easy thing for you to do. Your hand is moving right now."
As gospel music from CeCe Winans played outside Mount Bethel Baptist Church in East Nashville on Wednesday morning, 30 volunteers with But God Ministries did the decidedly not easy miracle of unloading and repacking over 15,000 pounds of food to distribute to their neighbors in a drive-thru food giveaway.
Helpers of all ages pushed cartons of milk jugs around and sorted produce, while cars started lining up hours before food would be distributed. Antoinette Hargrove Duke, who started But God Ministries in 2014, said she expected over 200 people to receive food Wednesday.
But God Ministries tries to host around one mobile food pantry each month throughout Nashville in coordination with Second Harvest Food Bank. She also hosts food giveaways in Rutherford County.
Duke started the organization to try to serve outside the walls of her church.
"Hunger transcends all religious denominations," she said. "We felt like if we were just in the church, we were not reaching the masses."
She got the idea for the name But God during a period in her life she described as a struggle. As she was going through trial after trial, the phrases "But God" and "But you O Lord" kept coming back to her.
She settled on the name But God Ministry Nette Working For You.
"I realized what God really wanted us to do, and that was to serve, that was to give back," she said. "It was not until then that I realized it wasn't about me, but God."
Duke was inspired to work with food after seeing the statistics about food insecurity in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17.4% of Americans deal with food insecurity.
"It strictly was understanding where the need was and redirecting what I wanted to do to meet the needs of the community," she said.
Duke said her ministry would not have worked out if other people didn't have the same vision of serving and giving back.
"It's bigger than just one person," she said.
The churches and other community organizations where the food giveaways are held provide volunteers, but Duke also has some regulars who come to many of her events.
Vickie Green has been involved with But God Ministries for the past three years. She met Duke at a work event and has been volunteering ever since.
Wednesday morning, she directed traffic, organizing the arriving cars in a serpentine formation to fit as many as possible in the parking lot.
"It's just been fulfilling to be able to serve," she said.
Dr. Jacques Boyd, pastor of Mount Bethel Baptist Church, has been involved with But God Ministries since it was founded. He said it provides for a great need in the community.
His church hosts a food drive with Duke about once a year.
"The Bible says clearly that 'I was hungry, and you fed me,'" Boyd said. "This partnership and this ministry provides an opportunity to feed those in their time of need."
For her work, Duke was one of two community organization Hunger Heroes named by Dollar General this year in partnership with People Magazine. Additionally, two employee Hunger Heroes were named.
Crystal Luce, senior director of public relations at Dollar General, said the Hunger Heroes spotlight is part of Dollar General's new partnership with Feeding America, the parent organization for Second Harvest.
By the time the program is fully rolled out to all stores, Dollar General plans to provide up to 20 million meals a year from donated food.
Duke's story and the way she provides 15,000 pounds of food a month made her stand out as a Hunger Hero, according to Luce.
"It makes a real difference," Luce said of But God Ministries.
Duke's theme for But God Ministries is "serving with joy."
That joy was apparent Wednesday morning as Duke and her volunteers laughed together, danced together and fed together.
She thanked them for giving back in the season of Thanksgiving.
"This shows quite a bit about where each of your heart is."