by Meggan Manlove
ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant – proposed July 2012, granted Jan. 2013
Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa, ID – AFTER THE HARVEST
Trinity Lutheran Church founded Trinity Community Gardens in the spring of 2008, when the original plot was planted in the church’s backyard. Trinity Community Gardens planted additional plots on congregational members’ acreages in the spring of 2009. (Currently, Trinity Community Gardens has a plot on the grounds of Trinity Lutheran Church and grows and gleans on several other plots in the Nampa area). In the summer of 2009, the ministry was expanded to gleaning the fields of local commercial vegetable gardens. Trinity Community Gardens enlisted volunteers from Job Corp and the Sheriff Inmate Labor Detail (SILD) to help with the gleaning.
The garden ministry fits perfectly into the mission of Trinity Lutheran Church. For many years, one Saturday a month, Trinity Lutheran members have volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Leadership for the annual Canyon County Church World Services CROP Hunger Walk is often provided by Trinity Lutheran members. Congregational members’ passion for hunger ministry was clear during Lent 2012 when we raised $1172.17 for the ELCA God’s Global Barnyard.
Over the past few years we have begun to expand the TCG ministry to education. The motivation to host classes came in the spring of 2011 when we hosted the University of Idaho Extension’s six-week Idaho Victory Garden Course and two-day Junior Master Gardener Day Camp (we hosted again in the spring of 2012 and 2013). Also in the spring of 2012 & 2013, Trinity Community Gardens’ founder, an Advanced Master Gardener, taught two daylong courses, “How to Garden the Trinity Community Gardens Way.”
Now Trinity Lutheran Church would like use funding from an ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant to expand our hunger ministry beyond Trinity Community Gardens to include education on food preparation and preservation.
The unemployment rate in Canyon County is 8.7%. The poverty rate for the county is 20%. In Nampa School District, 57% of the students qualify for free lunch. The Idaho Food Bank serves 206,433 families state wide. During the 1990s, Trinity Lutheran Church dedicated land to Mercy Housing Northwest to build affordable housing. New Hope (16 Multifamily units) wraps around the church parking lot. (Some of these statistics may have changed since we submitted our grant proposal in 2012).
Southwest Idaho is high desert. This climate combined with ample irrigation lends itself to good growing conditions for both commercial vegetable farmers and community gardens. In the last several years more food banks and food pantries have been given fresh produce to give to their clients. We now have a population of food pantry clients in Southwest Idaho who regularly receive produce (such as kale or cabbage) that they do not know how to prepare and of course the fresh produce is not available year-round.
We want the produce from TCG to be enjoyed long after harvesting and gleaning have come to an end. We want to make it possible for families of all incomes to eat nutritious produce all year. And finally, we want to provide recipes so that people across Southwest Idaho can create and eat tasty and healthy meals made with produce grown right here.
The Project: AFTER THE HARVEST
Our partner, University of Idaho Extension, will absorb the cost for three Trinity Lutheran Church members to be certified as Master Food Safety Advisors in the spring of 2013. We hope to train three additional Advisors with funds from the grant. Then, in the fall of 2013, we want to hold a 3-week course, taught by University of Idaho Payette County Extension Educator, Joey Peutz, on food preservation for 15 individuals. Class content will include both freezing and canning. We will purchase seven canning sets and twelve jars per participant to be used during the classes. The produce will come from the Trinity Community Gardens. After the course, participants will be able to borrow the canning sets and use them at the church, under supervision of Master Food Safety Advisors.
We also want to assemble a cookbook with simple recipes for produce grown in Southwest Idaho. Recipes will be collected from the community, Extension Master Gardeners, and local farmers. Recipes will focus on healthy, limited ingredient recipes using seasonally available produce. A number of these will given be free of charge to food pantry clients. Other copies will be sold, the funds used to help support Trinity Community Gardens and additional outreach.
The hunger ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church continues to grow. When new needs arise in our congregation, neighborhood, and city we try to address them. We hope that you will consider our proposal for After the Harvest. We are very excited about this next venture and hope ELCA World Hunger will partner with us.