Cleveland UCC church, local farms nurture Mission:1 year-round
Written by Jeff Woodard November 11, 2011
hunger is one thing. But the hungry also have an appetite for empowerment.
are many soup kitchens and community meals in the neighborhood," said the
Rev. Lori Tisher, program manager for community outreach at St. Paul's Community UCC in Cleveland. "But we feel like giving people a choice in
picking out their foods, almost as if they were in their grocery stores, is
more empowering than just being handed a bowl of food to eat right there in the
reference is to St. Paul's food pantry – stocked primarily by the Cleveland
Food Bank and Sav-A-Lot grocery stores – and to its participation in the UCC
Mission:1 campaign to end hunger.
distributed food to 35 families during the first 10 days of Mission:1,"
said Tisher. "That includes 36 adults, seven children and four seniors.
Each family received a three-day supply of food – cereal, milk, tuna, ravioli,
peanut butter, jelly, soup, macaroni-and-cheese, canned fruit and vegetables."
Paul's goal was to provide a three-day supply of food to as many neighbors as
possible whose income is below the poverty level.
serve a wide range of individuals and some families," said Tisher. "The
majority are 30- to 40-year-olds, but there are some seniors. The working poor
and those receiving disability checks are also among those served. A lot of
them get food stamps, but just not enough. And then there are the homeless
people, living under the bridges. They just need something to tide them over."
UCC national office staff - W. Mark Clark, associate general minister, and Valerie Smith, Clark's executive assistant - savor the smell of chili prepared for clients of St. Paul Community UCC's outreach in Cleveland. (Photo Gregg Brekke)
national UCC staff members in Cleveland have been proactively participating the
past 11 days in Mission:1 community-service projects, including multiple visits
to food banks, farm sites, local churches and elected officials.
had a huge variety of sites to visit here," said Kimberly Whitney, UCC
minister for Community Life. "From local church soup kitchens and food
banks to political advocacy on just best practices for international food
relief, and a connection to our local hunger political scene. There were
multiple visits to the Cleveland Food Bank, and one east- and one west-side
group visited the Ohio City farm – the nation's largest contiguous urban farm,
at which the Refugee Empowerment Agricultural Program operates. Another group
harvested sweet potatoes at Case Western Reserve University Farm.
nothing like a city girl getting her hands dirty and her back full into a
pitchfork digging up sweet potatoes," said the Rev. Loey Powell, executive
for Administration and Women's Justice for UCC Justice & Witness
farm project comprises 400 acres of crops grown to supply the cafeteria at the
university, support local efforts to feed the hungry, and provide an
opportunity for young people to connect their passions for sustainable
agriculture and environmental justice with their education.
are only two staff members tending the rows of plants, so any help they can get
with the crops is very much appreciated," said Powell. "Those of us
who live in cities and suburbs are mostly disconnected from the source of our
food. What a wonderful reminder that the earth is God's and the fullness
From Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11), the UCC
goal has been to collect more than 1 million food and household items for local
food banks, as well as $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related ministries and $111,111 in online
donations for East Africa famine relief. The UCC also asked its
5,300 congregations to advocate for hunger-related causes worldwide via 11,111
letters to Congress; by Nov. 9 that goal had been doubled