No, this isn’t about the produce haul usually available on Saturday mornings in parking lots throughout the country. Instead, it’s about an amazing ministry opportunity we’ve been afforded at Christ Lutheran.
Last year, the local food bank contacted us about being a host site for their summer W.I.C. Farmer’s markets. WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children, and is a specific government nutrition program targeting children who are not yet in school. The income limits for it actually include more folks than those who qualify for food stamps, in order to make nutritious food available to at-risk children living at, below, or slightly above the poverty line.
The beauty of these Markets is that it really is like a regular farmer’s market, but instead of money the families shop with their vouchers. Each household is allotted a certain amount to spent at the market on fresh fruits and vegetables, and as long as they arrive early enough to be at the front of the line, they can choose their favorites.
This is our second summer providing space in our parking lot for this ministry. It’s a big deal – at the first event in June, we know we served well over 100 families based on the things we gave away as a church. You see, at the end of the distribution line, we are allowed to set up our own area and give away things. We learned from our experience last year that feminine hygiene items were a big need, as well as Christian reading materials for the kids. So we gather donations from our congregation and bag up the supplies for the women, and we purchase children’s books and coloring books about Jesus to give to the children.
Thankfully the events are in the morning, but it still gets pretty hot. We also learned last year that sidewalk chalk is a big hit with the kids who come. Our pavement is covered with colorful murals that will wash away whenever it finally rains again… please Lord, give us rain! The food bank also provides breakfast for the kids in attendance, and it’s very much a service for children.
We are grateful for the opportunity, and will continue to find other ways to serve our community with food and the love of Christ. This week we have two events, one yesterday and one tomorrow, and today we have our monthly Senior Share! Senior Share is similar to the farmer’s markets, except it is specifically geared towards folks who are over 65 or disabled. And there isn’t a voucher system, just a limit to the amount of certain items that each person can take. Generally speaking, we have tons of leftover produce, because we end up with massive amounts of specific vegetables (beets, turnips, kale, onions, or potatoes, depending on the month).
Needless to say, we will be giving away a lot of food this week! What a gift to provide space for these community programs. We are blessed by our building and parking lot, and thankful to share the blessing with others.