A ray of morning sun shot through the huge stained-glass window at the United Methodist Church of Narberth.
It lasered a patch of bluish-red light onto a box of string beans so plump and green, they looked fake.
The sun-kissed beans, along with pounds and pounds of other foods, were being bundled for needy residents who had gathered this week at the Narberth Community Food Bank, housed in the church.
These are uneasy days for the three-year-old food bank. The church is being sold and turned into 11 condominiums, morphing from the sacred to the secular - for a nearly $2 million asking price.
Now, a dedicated corps of food-bank volunteers, who only recently realized that hunger existed even in well-to-do Narberth, must find a new home.
The commodious church, which costs $57,000 a year to keep open, has no more than 45 congregants, according to Pastor Lydia Munoz.
"The cost to maintain the church far exceeds anything we're taking in," Munoz said, adding that dwindling congregations were forcing houses of worship throughout America to close.
Narberth worshipers will become part of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr.
The asking price for the Narberth church and an accompanying building was $1.7 million, according to Narberth Realtor John Duffy, who is brokering the deal. An agreement of sale has been reached with Mainline Realty Investors L.L.C. in Haverford, but the deal has not been completed, said Mac Brand, a developer with Mainline. She would not say what the final price would be.
Gigi Tevlin-Moffat, director of the food bank, said she was unsure of when she would have to vacate the church. But she's dreading the change, as are the ever-growing number of people who use the food bank, which draws customers from other Main Line areas, such as Radnor. Between August and October, a monthly average of 200 adults and 110 children were served at the food bank.
"Our guests are very anxious," said Tevlin-Moffat, 47, a Narberth resident who started the food bank as a way of battling the recession's deleterious effects.
It's not clear where the food bank will land. But in an accommodation that seems rare these days, the Borough of Narberth appears to be willing to help.
"We have offered Gigi some space," said Borough Manager Bill Martin. "I don't think any of us in Narberth understood how much of a need there is here, and Gigi helped us become more aware that hunger is a universal problem."
Throughout the area, the need for emergency food has skyrocketed in recent years. In Philadelphia alone last year, requests for emergency food assistance increased 41 percent, according to a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey.
But as more people flock to food pantries, neighbors living near the agencies - typically housed in churches - have become more vocal in their complaints about the crowds. Such was the case recently at pantries in Bridesburg and Mayfair.
Attitudes appear to differ in Narberth. Martin said the Narberth Community Food Bank could be moved to the basement of a former elementary-school building on Sabine Avenue. But he acknowledged that the space, among other problems, didn't have easy access to a bathroom. "It's not perfect for her use," Martin said.
Still, Tevlin-Moffat said she was grateful the borough was even willing to help, pointing out that recently, the Junior Women's Community Club of Narberth held a fund-raiser for the food bank.
"We were so taken aback," Tevlin-Moffat said.
In a community of 4,200, where the U.S. census estimates the median household income is nearly $80,000 annually, it's easy to forget that hard times have taken hold for so many people.
A 53-year-old man who was getting food at the food bank this week said he was a former investment banker and consultant who lost his ability to work after a serious accident.
Another food bank client, Gail Thorson, 69, a retired saleswoman and a widow, said she couldn't survive without it.
"This is a wonderful thing," she said. "People just don't realize the need out here."
While the food bank's future is unclear, Tevlin-Moffat wanted Narberth residents to understand something:
"If I have to beg for a place, I will do that. If I have to set up on someone's lawn, I will do that, too. We'll just handle it."