Not everyone in our communities is well fed. Low-income families want to make healthy meals and believe eating healthy is realistic for them, however, they are struggling to do so. Families view cost as the primary barrier to healthy eating. How might your congregation reach out to those who are hungry?
Have a little extra space in the church lawn? In the community? Grow a garden! Give the food away! Here’s what some of our churches have done:
Whitefish UMC: Whitefish Community Garden (WUMC) has organized as a 501c3. Being incorporated has allowed them to apply for funding and receive donations that individuals and organizations would not have made to a religious organization. Members, individuals and families grow their own food in rented 12' x 4' raised beds on a 1 acre plot. Members agree to provide 6 hours of volunteer labor to the garden and donate 10% of their harvest to the food bank.
Living Waters UMC (Belgrade): A group meets after church one Sunday to plant it on their 12' x 10' plot, and then someone oversees the weeding. The produce is donated to the food bank, which is located at the church on Saturday mornings.
Church: (406) 388-1265 | www.livingwatersumc.org
Lewistown UMC: There are two kinds of community gardens that they are involved with:
Shiloh UMC (Billings): Shiloh's garden is divided between plots that the church members tend and donate the produce to the food bank or the Billings Free Store, and plots that community members can rent. The intention of the Community Garden is to go beyond providing space to learn and cultivate their own food--much of it is designated for places in the community that provide nutrition to the marginalized; those that normally don’t eat healthy. Want to see how they got started?
Church: http://www.shilohbillings.church/serve-shiloh/ | (406) 656-0050 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Browning UMC: Browning UMC does a community meal at the church every Sunday after worship. They also offer the community meals at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The women of the church also offer meals to families at other churches when there is a funeral. (406) 338-3900 email@example.com
Sheridan UMC: They participate in a community lunch program called Lunch Together. Church members volunteer to cook, serve, clean up, providing a free lunch a week at a time. Community churches rotate providing lunch Monday through Friday year-round. Lunches are served at the Congregational Church. Contact Butch Bennett through Sheridan UMC at fumcsheridan.org (307) 672-9779.
Miles City UMC: Lunch On Us! Every Wednesday people of the church prepare and serve a free lunch to high school kids, and anyone else that shows up. The church is near the school, and the meal is served at the church.
Church: (406) 874-3502
Columbia Falls and Whitefish UMC: Churches in the north Flathead area have come together to provide food and friendship to their neighbors in the canyon area communities outside Glacier Park. They serve about 100 meals each month. Free meals are served at 5:30 p.m. once a month. They support their dinners by organizing and participating in the Columbia Falls CROP Walk each October. Contact Whitefish UMC: firstname.lastname@example.org (406) 862-3418 or Columbia Falls UMC: email@example.com (406) 892-5811.
Bozeman UMC: People of Bozeman UMC join with other community churches to serve at the Community Café – free meals provided by the Gallatin Valley Food Bank 7 days a week, year-round. Church: (406) 586-5413 Bozeman UMC.
Corvallis UMC: Missions team provides a community meal once a month. Contact Rich Johnson through Corvallis UMC firstname.lastname@example.org (406) 961-3099.
Many, many churches in our conference support their local food bank. Here are some different ways this outreach is promoted:
Reverse offering: Have slips of paper with items needed in the offering plate. People take one or more and bring the item the next week.
Pluck a feather: Create a large turkey. Make the feathers out of construction paper, and write something needed at the food bank on each feather. People ‘pluck’ the feather(s) they want to take home as a reminder and bring back the food and feather.
Peanut Butter Sunday: Designate a Sunday for one particular need. Collect for a given period of time.
Canstruction: Design something to be made out of cans that people donate. Check out canstruction
Gourmet dinner: Plan a special dinner (for 10?) with a couple friends. Sell tickets. Donate the money to the food bank.
Souper bowl: Collect cans of soup the weeks before the Super Bowl.
Kiss a pig: Have two competing groups in the church (youth/adults, men/women, etc) and see which one can bring in the most food for the food bank over a given time. Designate a key person representing each group. Losing team's designated person must kiss a pig (or some other random animal) during worship.