Farmington Food Shelf Announcement
Farmington Lutheran to Partner with the Farmington Food Shelf and 360 Communities
At the September 11th council meeting, the council voted to approve the Farmington Food Shelf coming under the leadership of FLC. This is a partnership with 360 Communities, an organization that works with a variety of human service issues in our area.
The Farmington Food Shelf will reopen in October at its current location (510 Walnut Street), with the new choice model. This is a model where clients will choose their own groceries from the shelves. The next few months will provide a time for living into the choice model, seeing and understanding the client needs as well as needs for storage. If there are issues that affect the well-being of the clients, they will be addressed.
With continual attention being given to client needs and day-to-day food shelf tasks, the plan at this point is for the Farmington Food Shelf to be housed at Farmington Lutheran Church in late January 2019. The Farmington Food Shelf will continue to be a place where all residents of the Farmington Area can serve and be served.
We wanted to share a little about our rationale for the decision, and how we went about making the decision. We also wanted to invite you to participate in volunteering for the food shelf.
How did this idea get started?
In May of 2018, an idea was brought to the Sr. Pastor about the possibility of partnering with 360 Communities to take over the leadership of the Farmington Food Shelf. On June 5th, the project was brought to the executive committee. On June 12, the project was discussed at the council meeting. The council voted to begin discussions with 360 Communities.
Throughout the summer, the Sr. Pastor, members of the church council, and members of the community outreach ministry team have:
Been in conversations with 360 Communities.
Visited other food shelf sites and talked with the staff there.
Discussed issues with FLC staff.
Been trained in a variety of food shelf areas.
Looked at challenges, obstacles, benefits, and potential unintended consequences of having the food shelf.
Contacted and visited other churches who have food shelves.
At the meeting on August 14th, the council voted unanimously to take this proposal to the next phase, which includes getting feedback from the congregation.
What were some of the concerns?
We had meetings with congregation members, and also many meetings and phone calls with individuals. While there was overwhelming support for the food shelf coming to Farmington Lutheran, there were also some legitimate concerns. Below are some of the questions and concerns with explanations.
Will it cost us to house the food shelf? The Farmington Food Shelf is mostly self-contained. The Farmington community has been generous with donations, and so there would be little that the church would need to contribute financially. There are some costs in the transition (including two laptop computers, a cell phone, and the possibility of an outside door), but existing food shelf funds can be used for the transition. Shelving, refrigerators, and freezers can be brought over from the existing facility.
Aren’t we already short of classroom space? Yes. We would lose one classroom for the food shelf. However, we would gain something, too. Not only would we be a service to the community… But when we talk in our education programs about being servants to others, the Sunday school teachers and youth leaders could talk about the very real way we are serving others right from our own facility. The youth and children’s staff and ministry teams have expressed support for the food shelf, even though they are losing a classroom. We will find another place for the groups that meet in that room.
Do we have enough space to house the food and equipment? The 360 Communities food shelves are all in spaces of different shapes and sizes. Some have considerably smaller areas than our potential space. Storage of food shouldn’t be a problem. Most food shelves try to keep distribution of food going at the same rate as the incoming food, to eliminate waste. Several strategies are used to keep food moving. If we need it, we can continue to store food at the current site.
Could we take it over, but leave the food shelf at the current site? This is another legitimate question, and the council discussed the merits of this idea. Ultimately, we felt that if it was at the current location, it would be less visible, and therefore more difficult to find volunteers and have day-to-day leadership. Our mission as a church is to be wholly rooted in the community, and felt that we needed the physical presence here.
Are there security issues? This seems to not be a significant issue. In the last few years at the 360 Communities food shelves, there was only one interaction where police were called due to an angry client. 360 Communities staff handled the issue and forbade the individual from using that food shelf again.
Will people who use the food shelf have more difficulty getting to Farmington Lutheran? The current location of the food shelf will be more central for some people (and our location will be better for others). All people who use the food shelf make appointments through 360 Communities, and so transportation is one of the questions the staff asks. If there was someone who couldn’t make it to the location at Farmington Lutheran, there are other options that 360 Communities would provide. The Farmington Food Shelf has been closed for the last few weeks, and so far, no one has had a problem getting to one of the other sites.
How does the day-to-day food shelf work?
360 Communities does intake for new volunteers, trains food shelf volunteers, holds regular food shelf meetings, and gives overarching policy and procedures. They partner with larger food organizations so that the food shelves can get substantial food discounts. With other nearby food shelves working with 360 Communities, we could share equipment and food as needed.
Farmington Lutheran would need to provide some of the volunteers, the leadership, and to manage the day-to-day processes and clients.
FLC already has a strong relationship with 360 Communities. A strong partnership benefits all parties, especially the people who are taking advantage of the food.
This would still be the Farmington Food Shelf. It is still a community entity. But it will be the Farmington Food Shelf housed at Farmington Lutheran Church.
The hours that the Food Shelf is open would be up to our congregation. But Monday and Thursday afternoons, noon to 6:00 pm are recommended. This is so that we are not open at the exact same time as other area food shelves
How does the Food Shelf fit our mission?
Our mission field is Farmington. We want to not just be geographically located in Farmington, we want to be rooted in the community. We want to be known in the community for our caring and compassion.
In the strategic planning conversations last year with congregational members, there was a significant interest in developing more service and service projects in the community.
The strategic plan calls for developing inroads into the Farmington area, so that we can be servants to the community and its needs.
Many Old Testament verses exhort us to feed the hungry. In the New Testament, Jesus (Matthew 25) tells his disciples about the Last Day, when he will say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” When His people asked “When did we do this?” He replied, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.”
Mostly, this fits into our mission because our rootedness in the community is who we want to be. We felt like taking the food shelf would be a good conduit to get into the community. We hope to continue the process of becoming more engaged in Farmington needs.
What kind of volunteers would be needed?
We would need to provide two lead volunteers. These people would be in charge of the day-to-day running of the food shelf, under the direction of the Community Outreach Ministry Team.
We would need regular food shelf volunteers, who assist clients as they get food, stock food, clean up, and do the appropriate reporting. Typically, about 75 hours’ worth of volunteer time are needed each week. Sometimes drivers are needed to transport food. We also hope to have someone who would manage community partnerships.
Further, since this is the Farmington Food Shelf, and not the Farmington Lutheran Food Shelf, we will solicit volunteers from other churches and across the community.
If you would like to volunteer, please click the link below. It takes you to the application process at 360 Communities.