Maintaining a food pantry in our ministry has been more difficult than I had imagined. What we have lacked is the steady supply of foods to give out to those in need. All of our attempts at locating a constant source of products have so far turned into dead ends and currently being a small congregation limits our funding. Some organizations we have sought assistance from want to tell you who to feed and how to feed them stifling your discretion in simply handing out that cool glass of water. Others say they will get back with you and never call again.
I suppose we must exercise a greater tenacity than what we have previously in order to secure the resources we need even though there isn’t much ‘competition’ in our area. In fact, since our Relief Center is in St. Tammany Parish and in east Slidell there is really only one other ministry that we know of that handles benevolence work as we do. The search continues.
As a result of increased diligence, I recently found an interesting organization called Sportsmen Against Hunger. This chapter is in Michigan and supplied 40,000 lbs of venison and an equal amount of canned foods last year! Their motto is “Channeling Precious Natural Resources Into Opportunities for a Better Community” You gotta love that!
In moving through various channels and discussions with wildlife and fisheries agencies via phone calls, I’ve located some good possibilities in free food such as the legal donation of meat from hog and deer management efforts where the animals are claimed by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents. The catch is that the agents themselves cannot keep the meat so they are willing to give it to us. Good fresh meat. We just have to butcher it. That’s what I call partnership.
We are looking into the same thing re: fishing rodeos and other events such as ‘Clean Out your Freezer Days’ where sportsmen donate unused food from their freezers to worthy community food banks. Networking with the area’s fishing and gaming community is a great way to be both good stewards of their harvesting and staying well-connected to our local neighbors which is another dimension of our Homeland Mission work.
After a great conversation today with a new conservation agency in the White Kitchen wildlife preserve area near our church, I am looking forward to helping organize a community awareness meeting to address reuse issues related to post-Katrina impacts on about a 500 acre wildlife region. Gotta love that, too. Stay tuned for more details.