We introduced the Village Harvest at the end of 2014 as a response to the increasing costs of food and to ease some of the financial strain of those in our community. Port Royal can be described as a food desert. We set up the food distribution market style to make food available locally and easily accessible to those who need it. We celebrated its 5 year anniversary in 2019.
In summary, the distribution provides–
- 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.
- Food for those who lack transportation to get it. Several clients from Caroline and Essex counties pick up food for those who can’t get to St Peter’s on their own.
The distribution provides benefits for those at St. Peter’s as well-as an example of generosity and service to the community- Many at St. Peter’s serve each month. Johnny and Cooke Davis bring back food monthly from the Northern Neck Food Bank.
Two quotes taken 2 years 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.”
Village Harvest helps those outside the church who are dealing with financial hardships as well as those inside the church who enjoy working one-on-one in service to others. The distribution strengthens our ties to the community we are charged to serve and strengthens our ties to God who nourishes us.
The Village Harvest in 2019 showed expansion as it ended 5 years of service . People served grew by 8% from 1,289 to 1,397. This is in contrast to 2018 where there was a 32% drop after the decision was made not to call people ahead of the harvest.
Food available, however, grew less than clients at 3% from 14,931 to 15,305 pounds. Much of the decline has occurred in the last 2 months. December’s total was 766 pounds, the lowest of 2019 but above December, 2018 which had 692 pounds available.
Since food grew slower than people, food available per person declined from 11.6 to 11.0 pounds from 2018 to 2019. This level is substantially above the earlier years in the Harvest – 6 pounds in 2015 to just under 9 pounds in 2017.
The value per shopper was also down in 2019 from $69.5 to $65.7, calculated at $6 per pound. However, this is ubstantially higher than the earlier years of the harvest – $36.2 in 2015, $52.6 in 2016, $53.5 in 2017. Beginning in 2018, there was more value from $53.5 in 2017 to $69.5 the following year.
Looking back the last five years, the church has served 7,086 people 66,327 pounds. This calculates to 9.36 pounds per person at a value of $56.2 over the period. We can celebrate these successes in the struggle against food insecurity.