By Dyan Fischer
Being raised in a frugal Dutch household, I learned to hate waste and to find ways to make use of what we had. Knowing that we have sisters and brothers who are struggling at times to stretch their budgets, pay bills and still put enough food on the table – combined with knowing how much food goes to waste in this country – drove me to walk into Trader Joe’s when it first opened in December 2008 and ask them what they did with food they no longer could sell.
The food cupboard seeks to serve individuals and families in various situations, such as unemployment, underemployment, sickness, widows, those raising grandchildren, those with medical conditions that make working full-time impossible, to name a few. We typically provide food to 25-30 family units.
We provide bread and other baked items, fruits, vegetables and sometimes frozen beef, pork or chicken. Besides us receiving items from stores, Scout Troop 542 also gives canned goods to the food cupboard every November, and New Life members bring in canned and dry goods which can be left in the container over by the kitchen door. We would like to see an all-church canned goods collection, possibly once a month.
Currently, there are approximately 36 volunteers and about four substitute helpers, but we involve recipients, too. This is an essential part of the ministry. Seeing folks “graduate” from the program who no longer need to receive food choosing to remain involved as a volunteers speaks volumes about how God works in our hearts to be his servants.
The food cupboard committee works hand in hand with the Financial Shepherding team of the diaconate. We want to feed the body and the soul. Often they will know of people who have a need. Sometimes someone comes asking for food assistance and we refer them to the Deacon’s Financial Shepherding team to be sure we are assisting in the best way possible.
We are only successful because we have dedicated and faithful volunteers. We are always looking for people, young and old, who can help. We pick up and sort food from Trader Joe’s on Saturday mornings. Volunteers clean up after the second service. This is a ministry that a family can do together. One of our faithful helpers is five years old! Sorting food can be made into a learning game about foods, colors, matching and serving the Lord.