Appeal Supports Much-Needed Food Security Efforts

$20,000 Distributed to Parishes Before Christmas

Posted January 4, 2024

The food security ministries of 22 parishes from across the diocese are starting 2024 off with a boost of financial support in the form of a grant, thanks to a special year-end appeal.

“It’s a gift to our parishes that is made possible by generous donors, particularly one generous donor who was moved to respond to the conflict happening in our world at this time by matching all the gifts that have come in for this appeal from all corners of our diocese,” said Bishop Susan Bell.

Year-over-year increases in grocery prices of 10 per cent or more have forced many individuals and families to turn to help for the first time, while also stretching the budgets of food security ministries even thinner. Churches have been responding to this growing need through hosting and stocking community fridges, running food banks and community meal programs, cultivating community gardens, and delivering prepared meal boxes to those most in need in our communities.  

“Our ministries are easing hunger and food insecurity in all parts of our diocese and making a real impact on people’s lives,” said Bishop Bell.

With the support of the matching-gift donor, more than $20,000 was raised in just over a month. The appeal also attracted memorial donations in celebration of the life of the late Dr. Geoffrey Purdell-Lewis, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist, Hamilton.

St. Mark’s in Orangeville is one of the food security grant recipients, serving an average of 55 visits each month. Through a food cupboard offering basic food staples, and cleaning and hygiene products, the parish supplements other community programs, mainly serving clients who reside in the downtown area close to the parish.

In Smithville, St. Luke’s operates an emergency food pantry in conjunction with West Lincoln Community Care, the only food bank in the rural Niagara community. The grant is much needed as West Lincoln Community Care is serving 40 per cent more households than previous years, and 105 per cent more than before 2019. St. Luke’s operates a “no questions asked” food pantry for its neighbours, connecting them with West Lincoln Community Care whenever possible.

Since 2017, All Saints Lutheran Anglican Church in Guelph has offered a free, choice based, fresh food market called the Silvercreek Community Market, operating on the first and third Thursday of each month. In 2022, 4878 people accessed the market, and in 2023, that number grew to more than 6500. Each person served receives close to five pounds of fresh produce, along with eggs and baked goods donated by COBS bakery, along with other culturally appropriate food items. The funds from the grant will be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution, helping to keep up with the increases the ministry is experiencing.

Grants were given in response to a call for applications and ranged from $250 to $1500, depending on the ministry and its need.

Throughout the diocese, parishes continue to respond to the growing needs related to food security particular to their communities. The grants made through this appeal represent a “modest but most sincere affirmation” of these essential ministries, and all the important efforts to ensure the dignity and care of all people in the communities served by the diocese.

“It’s important that we strive for justice in our response to the human need we are seeing every day,” wrote Bishop Bell in a letter to grant recipients in which she encouraged parishes to share what they are doing with local politicians and community leaders. “Advocate for better supports for those struggling in your community.”