Kevin Mertens, Director of Faith in Action at Christ Church, Greenville, has developed an emergency food plan for those who wish to replicate their Project Host template.
Discern the Need
On April 1, 2020 I spoke with a ministry partner, a soup kitchen Christ Church started over 40 years ago, which is now an entirely independent agency. The director told me the sad story of delivering 100 meals to an apartment complex that day, but 1000 hungry people showed up looking for food. The agency counts on the assistance of volunteers and none were allowed due to safety concerns. I told him that I would see if we could help.
Assess the available resources
Our commercial kitchen, which serves the needs of the parish, had been closed since mid-March. The kitchen staff was not working. The parish house was closed. Outreach spending was suspended.
Obtain necessary approvals
I described the situation to our Rector. He knew immediately that we had to help. The Rector agreed to reopen the kitchen specifically for this project. For safety, no volunteers, only the kitchen staff were allowed to work in the kitchen. $2500 was released to fund the food assistance ministry.
Formulate a plan
I was told that the immediate need was for lunch bags consisting of a sandwich, chips, and an apple or orange to be delivered for distribution by the agency. A shopping list was put together to get us started. An email was sent to the parish describing our needs.
- Email to the parish on 4/1/20:
- Evolved to this email to the parish on 9/3/20:
Help Christ Church and Project Host Feed the Hungry
The needs of the community are even greater due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Project Host needs our assistance in helping them to provide meals to the hungry in our community. We will be preparing meals and to-go bags to distribute to their clients.
Our immediate needs are bread, cold cuts, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, mayonnaise, chips, granola bars, trail mix, sandwich bags, and paper lunch bags. All contributions are appreciated and can be dropped off at the church porte-cochère off Washington Street on Monday through Friday, 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. Please contact Kevin Mertens
Christ Church and Project Host
Feed the Hungry
Thank you all for your continued support! We have prepared over 50,000 meals so far!
Project Host needs our assistance in helping them to provide meals to the hungry in our community. We are preparing meals and to-go bags to distribute to their clients. Our most pressing needs this week are Sliced Meats and Cheeses, Creamy Peanut Butter and Jelly, Mayonnaise, Individual Assorted Chips, Bread, Apples, Oranges and Lunch Bags. All contributions are appreciated and can be dropped off during regular Parish House hours at the church porte-co-chère. Call the Front Desk for pick up: 864-271-8773. Please contact Kevin Mertens [email protected] or Debbie Rice [email protected] if you have questions.
Execute the plan
Beginning on the morning of 4/2/20, we assembled lunch bags to be delivered to the agency for distribution to the hungry. Parishioners started dropping off food that morning. Some parishioners did not feel safe shopping, from them we accepted cash donations to be spent on supplies as well. We prepared 250 lunch bags on the first day. On the second day we started making soup also, we prepared 280 lunch bags and 720 servings of soup. We did have a limited number of kitchen volunteers prepare sandwiches at home, which we picked up. Now 6 to 7 volunteers come in four days a week from about 9 am until 1 pm to assist the kitchen staff. As of 9/3/20, we have prepared over 52,000 lunches to be distributed.
- This turned into an amazing ministry opportunity for parishioners who were tired of being cooped up at home. They could buy extra items, while shopping, place a grocery order for delivery, or make a financial donation to the ministry. It made people feel like they were making a difference.
- Many parishioners donated items, not on our list. Every item that we couldn’t use was donated to another agency or food bank.
- The biggest observation has been that when we need or run out of an item, it just appears.
- We discovered that basic white bread lasts the longest, and creamy peanut butter is much easier to spread.
- When we started using cold cuts, we learned to ask for cheese not individually wrapped.
- We discovered that bananas don’t last and don’t fit in the lunch bags properly.
- You must ask for individual bags of chips and individual packs of crackers.
- Sometimes, we substitute granola bars or a pack of crackers for chips.
We continue to discover best practices…