“Give a Little, Gain a Lot” – The Village Harvest at 4

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Title:“Give a Little, Gain a Lot” – The Village Harvest at 4

“Give a Little, Gain a Lot” –That’s my description for the Village Harvest, which turns 4 years old this week on Nov. 19 when we attracted 60 clients and gave out 300 pounds that day. (By comparison in September, 2018 we served 112 and gave out 747 pounds of food.)

It’s being highlighted twice this month.  It is part of our Season of Giving. We are also encouraging you to give online or send in a donation by mail or in the plate in honor of This ministry on Nov. 27 as part of “Giving Tuesday”.

Let’s go back to its roots. Why  was it established?

The first notice of this ministry in November, 2014 said “The cost of food continues to rise and knowing that some of our Port Royal community might find it difficult to keep food on the table, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church wants to help. A new food ministry,  ‘Village Harvest’ will provide seasonal fresh produce once a month along with other  food and other supplies.  As we embark on this venture, it is our hope that we can grow it to help meet the specific needs of the community we serve.”

4 years later we have served almost 5,500 clients over 48,000 pounds of food. It is clearly one of our more visible and valuable outreach expressions from our church.

Over its 4-year life it has provided two main benefits for our clients:

  1. Food for those who are being challenged economically. Funds saved from purchasing food can go toward other necessities. We have a variety of clients ‐ widows, single parents, senior adults on limited fix income, unemployed, working poor, people experiencing a crisis.

The Free Lance-Star reported in Aug., 2018, “about 31,000 residents of Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford consistently lack enough food to maintain a healthy, active life. They’re considered food insecure by the United States Department of Agriculture. That means there are more local people who have trouble putting food on the table than the entire population of Fredericksburg. They are teachers and service workers, first responders and retail employees—and many of them work several jobs, which often means they make too much for government assistance.”

From those who help with the Village Harvest:

“I help because we are called in the Gospel to feed the hungry.” 

“Helping people to have access to fresh vegetables, fruit, meats and other necessities is important to me and our church. It is what Jesus asks us to do. 

  1. Food for those who lack transportation to get it.We draw clients from Caroline and Essex counties

It provides benefits for those at St. Peter’s as well:

  • Teaching children about outreach and generosity. One summer in Vacation Bible school provided jars of beans with a recipe for a distribution.
  • Enriching those at St. Peter’s who help with the distribution.

Two quotes taken a year ago from our volunteers at the 3rd anniversary highlight the role for the volunteers

“I enjoy being a part of a team in our mission “To Do God’s Will”. “I think that our community is learning that we at St. Peter’s CARE and desire to share God’s love with our neighbors.”

 “I help with Village Harvest because we get to know the people we help. These folks become friends not just a number. It just makes me happy that we can help in some small way to make things a little easier or better for them.”

It also provides another a role for the church in the community. People who are not members are coming here for food. I like to affectionately call the Village Harvest our “second congregation. ” This is a missional opportunity.

It has changed over time. We started out bagging vegetables and cans and now we use a supermarket approach – get what you need.

It has grown in numbers. In 3 years from 2015-2018, clients served rose 734 in 2015 to a high of 1,371 in 2017. It has scaled back to 1,064 in 2018. During 2018, we stopped calling to remind people of the harvest. Our core group now is about 120 people per month, the ones who are benefiting constantly each month.

And it has grown in foods provided. Foods supplied have consistently increased over the period from 4,355 pounds in 2015 to 12,744 pounds in 2018.

While numbers are about 80% of last year, the food  provided continues to grow. The result is more value  for those who venture here. More food, less clients has meant that the average pounds distributed to each person has doubled from 6 to 12 pounds. At $6 of value per pound, that means the average client receives over $70 of food per month!  Plus it is high quality foods – much of it is fresh vegetables and produce.

We have distributed more than food. We have provided school supplies in the summer and calendars and small gifts at Christmas. We have provided information about services, such as health related. We have prayed with them. And we have held dinners for our clients.

When we talk about food we need to thank the people who drive an hour to get it – That’s Cookie and Johnny our first string and Roger and Eunice in reserve. Phil Fitzhugh has also done it.  Thanks to all of you for many months of service.

We need to thank the people who unload it around 9:30am, the ones who organize it  and finally the ones who serve our shoppers between 3pm – 5pm. They are all valuable members of the team.

The costs have accelerated  as we expand our food purchases. In 2018, we are projecting costs over $2,300. The average cost per month is $192. This compares with $153 in 2017. It is being spent wisely.

Our goal in #Giving Tuesday which is coming up Nov. 27, 2018 is to raise 6 months support or $1,200.

  • A $10 donation feeds 6 people, 12 pounds each. It provides 70 pounds of food and $420 in total value!
  • A $20 donation feeds 12 people, 12 pounds each. It provides 140 pounds of food and $840 in total value!

Do you serve another organization that loves  give back ? Donating $200 puts you and or your organization into the “Village Club” for special recognition since you have covered the food for one Village Harvest!

You cannot get a better return on your funds than this.

I would like to encourage your support and also for you to encourage your neighbors, friends and business associates to give.

In  conclusion,  we do “gain a lot” from this ministry.  There’s even more  – and that is  building connections between ourselves and our clients and between ourselves. With our clients, we provide value in the foods we distribute, hospitality and friendship getting to know our clients, and to find meaningful ways to live out the Gospel.  With our ourselves we have taught the important of generosity, service, and being part of the team as well as creating a name for St. Peter’s in the community.

Please support us on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 27.  You can pledge online or through the mail (St. Peter’s Church, P. O. Box 399, Port Royal, Virginia 22535) or even drop a check in the plate.

It all comes back to us!