COVID RESPONSE
Southeastern Synod ELCA

Nativity/Briscoe Mill Park Food Ministry

June 15, 2020

Video introduction to Briscoe Mill Park Food Pantry:
 


Our small church in Barrow County, GA is home to a very mixed population. Nearby is a very dilapidated, nearly condemnable trailer park whose residents are comprised mainly of young immigrant families who have limited transportation, trying to survive on meager income of one for an entire family upwards of six in number, elderly on fixed incomes with little or no familial support living with multiple medical maladies, as well as a few single parent, low income white families. There are only about 30 of the 50 trailers in the park that are inhabitable. The adults in the Latino families are often undocumented and Spanish is the primary language in these homes. Parents are sacrificing and struggling to feed their children as a result of lack of public transportation and thin stretched services in a rural county, whose per capita income is just over $23,000 per year. Our church has been slowly teaching the children of this community that there is opportunity for them out there, another path to take. We encourage them to strive to be studious and hard working to succeed in their own lives and help their families.

We started this food ministry when we witnessed food insecurity behavior in these children when we would conduct weekly study and art project sessions. Each week we would provide a snack of some sort and the kids would hoard the snacks, ask to take some home, and try and sneak more than given. We recognized this as just a small part of a much larger issue and expanded the social and homework help ministry into something much more for these families and others struggling in their small community.

While some of the public schools may be opened in the summer for lunches, they are only available in the month of June and the children must travel to the schools to be provided lunch. Most families in this community have only one vehicle that is primarily used for work purposes and not available during the day. There is no program for seniors that is available at this time for them. This grant would allow us to add more families to our twice monthly dry and canned food box program, as well as provide supplies for lunch for the kids and seniors throughout the summer and assist the seniors beyond summer.

It has been demonstrated that inadequate nutrition affects the ability of children to do well in school. The seniors lack transportation and are on waiting lists for medical and meal assistance. Malnutrition can manifest itself mentally as anxiety and depression well as physically in forms of adult and childhood obesity and diabetes. Our church is committed to helping our neighbors through a food pantry that helps to provide culturally appropriate, adequate nutrition for these families in addition to fresh protein and produce help reduce the risk factors and help them achieve a greater sense of wellbeing, become more self-sufficient, and in turn help serve others as God’s children.

Currently, the mobile home park owner lets us use an abandoned trailer as a community center. This trailer was abandoned after an electrical fire. We use a closet in one of the two bedrooms as our food pantry. This grant would allow us to refashion the bedroom itself to expand the shelving for food as well as enable us to purchase heavy duty coolers for safe transport of proteins and produce from the church. It is not possible to install refrigerators or freezers in the trailer as the existing electric left will not support it. We are using the refrigerator and freezer at our church to store fresh foods and transport it in borrowed coolers.
 
As we grow, we would also love to purchase a dedicated refrigerator for Nativity for this ministry and set aside $500.00 of it to pay the electricity bill for the trailer which averages $15.00 per month.