Following up on a previous post about issues in rural education, this is the beginning of posts on food insecurity and a response.
Canned food drives and food pantries are often the response of churches and other groups to address issues of hunger and food insecurity. Another approach is the school back pack program. This is a program where local groups provide non-perishable small serving, easy open food for the weekends to kids with the highest need so they have food for the weekend. Both are honorable programs. The thing about both programs is that neither involve relationships with people and neither look past meeting the base physical and or emergent need.
Currently, my church is working with other churches in the community to move beyond boxes. We are beginning short term pilot program which provides a meal for a local group (in this case grandparents raising grandchildren), and then provides them with the materials and the instruction to prepare the meal at home (think Blue Apron). Our goal is to provide the fresh local vegetables and fruit for the meals. The recipes include stir fry and quiche, both of which are versatile and can use any vegetables available frozen or fresh.
We hope this program will grow, and we will seek out greater funding for expanding this program to more people and even into cooking classes. This provides education, community, and meets the basic food need. It also provides us a chance to talk to people and know what they really need and want for their families’ to be successful. We don’t want to presume anything about the people we work with, and know that providing a meal and a recipe to prepare at home is not invasive.
Beyond this, we also want to work on providing fresh food in the community and collecting a list of people’s needs and desires. This will involve education and advocacy as we work to change certain systems and situations to improve life for all people.