Having run our community dinners and The Table for a few years, it never ceases to amaze me that there is always enough to go around. We laugh about how much like the parable of the loaves and fishes our feeding ministry is. The last person to move around The Table always finds food. It may not be the wide variety that we started with, but it will help them get through the week until they can come again. And like the scraps left from the loaves and fishes, we had beautiful leftover vegetables to send to Shiloh Baptist Church – Old Site to use in their Micah Ecumenical Ministries breakfast and food pantry.
We have opened our door to desperate latecomers and raided the stored items and refrigerator to offer them enough to get them through until they can find more permanent help. As other pantries in our area have restricted services or closed because of lack of funding, we have worked harder to not turn away people. Our grant committee is actively working on new sources of funding. One simple idea we have had is to approach local businesses and groups to have them fund a week of produce. We welcome any thoughts you might have on this.
Chris did a survey October 4 and some of the answers were surprising. For 23% of those surveyed, The Table is their primary source of food. On the 4th, if they took everything that was offered, they received 7 pounds of non-perishables (cereal, pasta, rice/beans, beverage, granola bars), 13 pounds of fresh produce, 3 pounds of dairy/protein, and 2 pounds of gleaned items (Wawa, Panera Bread, Jimmy John’s, Wegmans, Kickshaws Downtown Market). Imagine stretching this for a full week. Another surprise was that 69% of them do not qualify for SNAP for a wide variety of reasons. For most of our shoppers, they simply cannot stretch their incomes to cover all their expenses. An article in the The Free Lance-Star this morning (no link available) discusses food insecurity in rural areas in Iowa. We have the same problem here in neighboring counties. The Fredericksburg Food Action Committee (of which St. George’s is a founding member) is actively working on identifying these pockets of need as well as trying to reach the elderly and disabled in our area who simply can’t get to any of the food pantries. Every month, Ron delivers Food For Life boxes to some of our recipients who have no way of getting to us.
From now until our last Table of 2016 on Dec. 20 (modified hours 9:30 – 1 on that day), the number of shoppers we see will continue to climb. We have already been asked about turkeys at Thanksgiving, and the decision is, once again, we will not be distributing them. We will see close to 250 families the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and will have the “fixin’s” to go with the celebratory bird. So as you see sales on those items, pick up an extra can or two for The Table. We also anticipate doing a special Christmas vacation bag for all the families with children we serve who will be away from school provided meals for two long weeks. The number is more than 200 children under the age of 18. We will be closed on Dec. 27. Thank you for all the warmth you generate and the needs you fill serving at The Table.
Peace – Linda