Big Changes for Foodlink

Each day in the United States approximately one pound of food per person is wasted. At the same time 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6), may experience food
insecurity in 2021[source]. This is not only people living under the poverty line. Some months get tight, even for people who have steady work and a steady income. That's why we love our partnership with Foodlink.
If you aren't familiar, Foodlink is a Rochester-based nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and building healthier communities by addressing both the symptoms and root causes of food insecurity. We partner with them by hosting a local "Pop-Up Pantry" where folks from our surrounding communities can come to receive donated food right at our church. We typically serve over 300 families every month and God is using this ministry in powerful ways.
I am a big advocate for doing things with purpose and adjusting as needed to best accomplish our goals. With our Pop-up Pantries we have 2 goals.
1) Reduce Food insecurity in our region and
2) Share the love of Jesus with our community.
Simply hosting the pantry is effectively accomplishing goal #1, but what about goal #2? How can we share the love of Jesus with our community better than we ever have before? Well, by standing in their shoes.
There are no income requirements to pick up food, but there is certainly a stigma. That's for "poor people". So, for many, the process of admitting they have a need and receiving something for free is at best, humbling, and at worst embarrassing or shameful. So we want to show everyone who comes to pick up food that they are not only going to receive food, but they will also receive dignity and love. That they will be seen through Jesus' eyes.
And that starts with our volunteers. Going forward, all volunteers will receive basic anti-discrimination training alongside training on how we represent Jesus to the community. This will be a requirement as serving our community is a great privilege and we will hold our volunteers to high standards for the way we give dignity to our customers. Would you like to join our growing team of volunteers? Sign up to learn more.
For our customers, we are going to try a whole new distribution format. Rather than folks waiting in line to recieve their monthly allotment of food, we will be creating a shopping experience where they can make choices about their own food priorities. Using a stamp card, customers will be able to shop through zones and go at their own pace.
We will be doing a "dry run" of this process after church on Sunday (August 22nd), so we would love to have you stick around for a few minutes to be a test shopper and give feedback on the experience.
Our first new Pop-up Pantry will be on August 23 at 3:30pm in our Ministry Center. If you would like to shop or know someone who may like to shop, then you don't need to pre-register, you can just show up. It will be first-come first- served until the food is all gone. 
We serve a God of abundance, and because of that we believe that there is more than enough food to go around. I am excited for this new season of sharing the abundance God has given our world with those who otherwise wouldn't be able to get to it. I hope to see you there!

Ryan Rovito

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