The Impact of Churches During the Pandemic Has Been Significant
The church’s general fund is nearly $180,000 behind where it should be. And even though not all of the December pledges have been received or posted the church council is working on a way to make sure that they do everything possible to make it higher than it is.
The numbers that are high, of course, are the ones that are being posted the church’s basement food pantry. In fact, 89 pantries were handed out during the three hours it was open earlier in the week. With eight to nine cars in line before the pantry ever opened, the staff was thankful that they had spend extra time the day before preparing the produce boxes, meat, milk, and bread in the commodity boxes, as well as the groceries from what the pantry has in its normal stock. In the month of November alone there were 175 new people to the pantry. The people who repeat from week to week is pretty low, but the increased number of those people who are finding themselves dealing with food insecurity is important to the group. The fact that nearly 65% of those folks visiting the pantry are brand new is an indication of the future challenges the church pantry will face. As a result, the pastors have decided that one of the two of them or the high school youth director will be helping each week the pantry is open. In absence of the regular kinds of donations being made every Sunday when there was in person worship the commodity boxes from a larger heartland food bank have been much needed. Two weeks ago, however, the church received a $10,000 grant from a local non profit pantry. Of this money, $3500 will be donated to a nearby high school food pantry where students can shop any time of the day.
With plans for the pantry in place, the church council has listened to conversations from the environmental group and the plans they have to help families in the spring. Doubling the size of the church garden is a must, according to the group, and the leaders have said that they have also worked with a local plant nursery to get access to some valuable space. In an effort to increase the number of starter plants that they want to donate to folks who have yard gardens of there own, the church has secured space at a couple of different commercial plant nursery sites to grow bigger and better tomatoes and pepper plants. In the past, the church environment group has distributed vegetable plants and succulents, but this year will forgo the succulents and provide more food bearing plants to those who want them. In addition, the local plant nursery has also agreed to provide seeds and other gardening supplies to the church at cost so that doubling the size of the on site church garden will not require a budget increase.
Just three years ago in 2017, approximately 117.6 million Americans did some sort of gardening in the preceding 12 months. Last spring, however, when many people were sheltering in place because of the pandemic there was a significant increase in the number of people who were growing their own home gardens. Like hardware stores selling materials for do it yourself projects, the small and large plant nursery stores across the country saw a record number of sales. The reality, of course, is that many of the people who could use the garden produce the most do not have the space to grow their own foods. Stuck in low income housing or living two and three generations together in crowded apartments, there are many who do not have the luxury of growing their own produce. For this reason, the environmental group at your church has really stepped up their efforts. Seen as a multigenerational effort of the congregation, the church garden is an active place during the warmer months. As younger generations increase their interest, older generations still dominate the gardening participation by 35%, but the church hopes to not only help provide fresh produce to those in need, but also foster a love of gardening among the younger congregation member groups.