Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Regarding a backpack food program driven by the Mission Committee of Dexter First Presbyterian Church

Needs of the program and promises the program makes:

What we’ve learned as a small church is that the program is big for us, even with only ten backpacks.
First we made some initial decisions:
  1. We would start with ten families having children in grade school.
  2. We would provide supplemental food for the weekend that covered all people living in the home for two breakfasts two lunches and two snacks.
  3. We would work in combination with the school.
  4. We would use our existing resources, namely people and the extraordinary generosity of the congregation.
  5. We would develop a simple questionnaire in  English and Spanish to ask if the selected families would like to receive the food supplement and to ascertain information about food allergies.
The following needs quickly became obvious:
  1.     Backpacks
  2.     Identifying the recipients
  3.     Mechanics of delivery and pick-up
  4.     What to pack in the back packs
  5.     How to pack the backpacks
  6.     How to maximally involve the church and any others
We simply began and worked it out as we went. First backpacks. One committee member purchased backpacks for us with wheels and a handle. They are sturdy and the wheels keep children from having to put a heavy pack on their backs. The committee member’s diligence has paid off. These packs are still in good shape and look to last through the year.
The school has been remarkably helpful in identifying recipients, helping us with space to store the backpacks, calling families when they forget to return their packs and filling us in on specifics for families to lessen our confusion. We could not have gotten very far without the school and our committee member that works at the school. They helped us with the mechanics of delivery pick-up.
The backpacks have been numbered one through ten and well over ten church members come weekly to pack the backpacks.
Taking a lead from similar programs, we stopped buying soft-top individual serving cups. When those are donated we use them by placing them in a plastic bag and sealing it. Initially our food came from donations on Sundays. We also received cash donations.
One committee member received an anonymous donation that helped us buy food on sale for four months along with an unlimited supply of Core Power.
We discussed writing grants, but haven’t gotten far on that idea yet.
Eventually, we realized we needed more food storage and a stronger inventory so we expanded into a storage room at the church. We also contacted Roadrunner Foodbank about possibly obtaining food from them to offset our costs.
The possibility of large bulk deliveries made us realize we probably needed an even larger storage area. Taking the advice of Roadrunner Foodbank, we chose a space that could be locked and cleared of all paper and boxes.
Now that we are half-way into the first year we haven’t so much made promises except to finish the year and begin plans for the next year.
Of course we have had problems. Our biggest challenge has been communication and prayer and a mechanism to handle disagreement. I should mention that I am the only one disagreeing, but I’ve always been rather disagreeable.
My concerns have been over whether to avail ourselves of Roadrunner Foodbank. ( I don’t believe it is necessary or wise, but I am the only one on the committee that thinks this way.) My second concern is over food storage and the take-over of a large portion of storage space for what amounts to one program of the church. Again I am the only person on the committee that thinks this way.
I hope that in the coming year we will open with prayer and Scripture at every meeting.
Additionally I hope we will have an agenda for each meeting.
However, none of these problems out-weigh the impossible strength of working in a community for a community.
Until the next, thank you for reading BEV