Addressing food poverty
In our roles as Development Workers for Imagine Norfolk Together in Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn we come across a range of projects in which churches are providing food for people from the local community, including foodbanks, lunch clubs, school holiday family meals and meals for people who are homeless.
These seek to address food poverty caused by a number of factors such as benefits delays, unemployment etc. combined with the need for social contact which eating together brings.If you are considering starting a food-based project, a good way to start is to talk to local people and organisations and to find out about what the need is, and if there is a genuine requirement for something of this kind. Providing food can be a real blessing to those who need it, but a proliferation of meals in a neighbourhood can sometimes create dependency. It’s a good idea for projects to think about how they can encourage the people who attend to flourish and grow, rather than remaining dependent on the project. This is often achieved by working in partnership with other local organisations.
Next, look at the skills and resources already available in the church and wider community, and think about how these could be developed. For example, a church with a good relationship with a local primary school might consider talking to the school about how they could work in partnership to support families during the holidays. Once you have an idea of the need and how it might be addressed, gather a team around you. Look for volunteers who are reliable and enthusiastic about the project. Don’t be afraid to start small. It’s better to give it a go and build something lasting over time than to be over-ambitious and burn out after a few months. If money is needed to get going, Norfolk Community Foundation are an excellent source of funding for local projects. It’s worth bearing in mind that donations of food are often readily available through donations from local people and businesses.
With regards to governance, there’s a wealth of advice available from the Charity Commission, even if you don’t decide to become a registered charity. In some cases attending these kinds of projects leads people to want to explore faith and becoming part of a church community. Whether or not this is the case, if approached with a servant-heart, these projects can often be a witness to the local community and a demonstration of God’s love in action.
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