Guest post by Ambassador Pat Hershey — I’ve always joked that Methodists have a passion for food (as in pot luck dinners), but at Lafayette United Methodist Church (LUMC) we put our real passion into helping the Food Bank.
Through our ongoing food drive, the “ONE Project,” we encourage members to bring one item of food to church each week. They can just drop their donations into the Food Bank barrel as they come into the sanctuary. Leslie Murray, our ONE Project coordinator, recently suggested that we set a goal to double our total yearly donation in 2012, and so far we are on track! For March, we are suggesting that folks bring peanut butter to donate, as that is one of the Food Bank’s most needed items.
LUMC members also regularly volunteer with the Food Bank’s “Boxing Team,” packing boxes of food for the Food for Children and Extra Helpings direct distribution programs. The Boxing Team works 2 – 3 Fridays a month, packing anywhere from 250 to over 700 boxes at a time. Rod & Barbara Levander started volunteering at the Food Bank over 12 years ago, first in the sorting room and then within a short time joined the Boxing Team. Vic & Fran Smith joined the Boxing Team a couple years later, and with the addition of Jill and myself in recent years, LUMC now regularly fields 6 members to help the team.
We also have groups of youth and adults who volunteer from time to time to help sort donated food at the Concord warehouse and pick pears for the Food Bank from the Moraga orchard. Recently I led a group of LUMC kids from ages 12 to 82 out to the Concord warehouse and we spent the afternoon sorting 5,187 pounds of food. That’s a lot of food, but at the end of the afternoon the group was simply saying “When is the next time we’re coming back to do this again? This was wonderful!”
One special thing that the LUMC women’s group has done for several years now is to make 100 Easter Baskets each year for kids in some of the Food Bank’s partner agency programs. Sue Renno and Fran Smith organize this project and direct the assembly process, and then the Food Bank sends a truck to pick up the finished baskets and distribute them to the partner agencies. Each basket includes a chocolate bunny, a stuffed animal, a toy and some practical items like tooth brushes etc. One of the agencies receiving baskets last year wrote to us saying, “The baskets went to mothers participating in the workforce services program who are in training (in Antioch), and they were very appreciative. The consensus was that they wouldn’t have been able to provide any Easter gifts for their children without your help.” Wow, what a great result from LUMC partnering up with the Food Bank!
Finally, I also volunteer in the Food Bank Ambassador program, which gives me a chance to go out to events and tell people about the Food Bank and the growing need for food assistance right here in Contra Costa and Solano counties. As an Ambassador, I’ve represented the Food Bank at a wide variety of events, including Oktoberfest in Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, an Employee Wellness event at Kaiser in Richmond, and the annual food drive at Fenton’s Ice Cream Parlor in Vacaville. It’s so rewarding to be able to tell others about the incredibly important work the Food Bank is doing, and raise awareness around issues of hunger. It fills my heart and feeds my soul.
LUMC Methodists are passionate about food – and we put that passion to work by helping the Food Bank achieve its vision of ending hunger here in Contra Costa and Solano counties.