By Alaina Knowles
Bennington, VT – Feeding ministries can be a very important part of a church community. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bennington is just one example of this. St. Peter’s is helping feed people in need, one meal at a time. Dick and Nancy Bower, avid members of St. Peter’s, spoke with The Mountain about their parish’s feeding ministry.
Church Freezer. A program at St. Peter’s was started to assist people struggling with food insecurity. Church members can prepare meals at home and bring them into the church to put in the freezer. Leftover food from church potlucks also goes in to the freezer. The meals are later distributed to anyone who expresses the need for a meal, usually, but not limited, to other church members. Most people who contribute meals simply make an extra portion of their own meal and put it in a labeled container for the freezer.
Occasionally, meals left in the freezer are distributed to area food banks. The freezer program, which has been going on for around 10 years, has benefited many people with food insecurity in and around Bennington.
Tomato Garden. Another way St. Peter’s helps with food is by growing tomatoes in the church garden. Several members help to make tomato sauce out of the harvested tomatoes. This goes into the church freezer along with the homemade meals from parishioners. Tomato gardening at St. Peter’s has become a great way for members to connect and make food that benefits their community.
Lunch Bunch. Additionally, St. Peter’s hosts a “lunch bunch” on the second Thursday of every month. During winter, soup, sandwiches, dessert, coffee, and tea are provided. During summer, soup is replaced with salad. Anyone is welcome to come, have lunch, and talk with other church members. Transportation can be arranged for people without a way to get there. Sometimes people are unable to come out that may like to have a potluck or a lunch together, so food is saved for them as well.
According to Nancy Bower, “We are part of a Summer Lunch Program. Six weeks this summer we have lunches for any child ages up to 18 that needs lunch. The lunches are provided by the Abbey Program. There are several places in town where kids can get lunch. St. Peter’s is one of them. The lunch must be eaten at the site. We try and make it a picnic with blankets or table clothes for them to sit on, bubbles and books.” The picture of this event is featured at the top.
The Episcopal Church in Vermont has a long history of feeding ministries and, St. Peter’s has put its own spin on creating easy and accessible ways to help people with food insecurity access meals. Churches considering new ideas for their own feeding ministries might consider the novel approach being done at St. Peter’s. And congregations actively involved in feeding ministries are invited to share their stories at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future edition of The Mountain.
In the featured photo: The St. Peter’s “Summer Lunch Program” enjoys the sunny weather.