A New Approach to Feeding Hungry Families
Local churches are innovatively taking the torch where others fall short and feeding the most food-insecure families.
The Role of the Local Church
Local churches have a unique ability to fill the gaps because they are in close relationship with their neighbors and most aware of the needs and specific circumstances in their community. They look out for the unseen, forgotten, and left behind. To this end CityServe is focused on delivering to the “Last Mile of Need” by empowering and equipping the local church to fulfill its purpose to overcome despair and transform lives by resourcing them with tangible goods and capacity building.
Alta Vista Assembly of God, a church in the CityServe network located in Bakersfield, CA, shares a story of how they were able to reach a family in the “Last Mile of Need.” They received news of a family with young children whose parents were farm laborers and recently laid off because of the COVID-19 crisis. They were out of work, money, and food. To make matters worse, their 1-year-old baby had tested positive for COVID-19 and now they were quarantined. When church leaders heard about their hardships, they packed up three weeks’ worth of food, diapers, and other household items and delivered them to their front yard gate. The church kept in touch with the family and provided much needed support, including prayer. They were pleased to learn that the baby fully recovered from the virus and all family needs were met over the weeks of quarantine. To this day, the church still connects with the family every week and delivers food boxes. This is just one of the many stories of a church going the extra miles so families living in the last mile are not forgotten.
“Someone’s entire life can be saved by a simple act of kindness,” says church leader Ryan Anderson of Hope Christian Center, as he recalls a story of a man who had reached a dark point of depression. With young children at home, the man was overcome with despair because of a loss of a job and anguish over how to support his family. He was walking down the street contemplating how to take his own life when he saw a church sign that read “FREE FOOD”. That sign represented a hope that he was not alone and that others from the church cared about him and his family.
USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program
CityServe is currently supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and their Farmers to Families Food Box Program through the CityServe HUB & POD distribution model. On April 17, 2020, the USDA announced the program as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed to help farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. The USDA approved $3 billion in contracts to suppliers for meat, produce, and dairy packaging and distribution to food banks, nonprofit and faith-based organizations.
“The Farmers to Families Food Box Program was designed to put American farmers and distributors of all sizes back to work while supporting over-burdened food banks, community, and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need, and the program is doing just that,” said Agricultural Secretary Perdue. “It’s encouraging to see the passion with which farmers, distributors, and nonprofits have gone above and beyond to make this program work in support of the American people.”
On August 28, 2020, the USDA announced the food box program had delivered over 75 million food boxes and will be extending the program with an additional $1 billion.
Recently, we have begun partnering with other faith-based groups to coordinate with the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution program. CityServe is facilitating the Faith-Based Community in support of Farmers to Families which also includes World Vision, Convoy of Hope, Citygate Network, The Dream Center Network, Teen Challenge, Mercy Chefs, God’s Pit Crew, Victory Churches, and other faith-based organizations.
The Faith-Based Community in support of Farmers to Families has played an essential role in delivering food through the “Last Mile of Need.”
- HUBs within the Faith-Based Community = 348
- USDA-approved suppliers collaborating with the Faith-Based Community for food box distribution = 33
- Food boxes distributed since program launch = 3.5 million+
- Food boxes committed each month to Faith-Based Community = 3 million+
Food box commitments to the Faith-Based Community continue to increase weekly as the HUB & POD distribution model proves most effective in reaching the most vulnerable to food insecurity. With support from the White House and the USDA the network provides an unparalleled establishment of churches and faith-based organizations that are committed to helping people who need it the most.
To find out how you can get involved from a church, corporate, community or on an individual level visit us online at www.CityServeNetwork.com to deliver critical items to those in need and help offer a sense of hope for a more secure life. You can also get more information by calling us at 661-371-2650.
Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including webinars and FAQs, is available at https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box
Check pastorresources.com for part 1 of How Churches Are Filling the Gaps in the “Last Mile of Need”
Dave Donaldson & Pastor Wendell Vinson