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Baptists Fight Hunger—How to be missional? Little Rock church hosts Farmers Market

Welcome to our blog series—At the Table: Baptist Fight Hunger!

Part 5 is by Carolyn Yeldell Staley, associate pastor of discipleship and missions at
Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.

By Carolyn Staley

Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock is located in a historic neighborhood. The community is largely young, hip, educated and interested in healthy lifestyles. There are young families, singles as well as seniors who live in bungalow homes, many dating from the early 1900sLogo.

Three years ago our church didn’t know many of our neighbors. Each Wednesday evening at supper, we’d see dozens of walkers, joggers and parents pushing baby strollers, and we’d wonder, “How can we meet these folks? Do they even know who we are and what goes on here?”

Our Ministry and Missions team met to talk about ways to serve our neighbors. We talked with members of the community and learned about a lively interest in locally grown food, concern for the environment and hunger. What was born of these prayers and discussions is the Hillcrest Farmers Market that operates year-round on Saturday mornings.

The start of the market followed a church-wide study about how to be “missional.” The market is supported through a grant from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s It’s Time program.  

We hoped the market would lend relevance to our church’s ministries. We hoped by seeing what we do that our neighbors might also know who we are and be open to learning more about Christ who motivates our service.Hillcrest market crowd shot

In May, 2011, the market opened with nine vendors and has grown to 35 registered vendors.  It features locally-grown and locally-made food products. Farmers agree to sell only what they grow or produce.

Hundreds of shoppers come each week for fresh produce, meat, eggs, cheese, baked goods, hummus, pesto, flowers, jams and jellies. They visit with neighbors and church folks, sip coffee, enjoy lunch from the food trucks, sit on the church steps and enjoy a leisurely morning.LR urban carrots rasishes

We have a church hospitality tent where information about church activities is available. Shoppers may preregister for Vacation Bible School. We also invite folks to sign up for emails of special events that they might enjoy.

We have a Children’s Tent with crafts fun. We also have a children’s gardening project, “The Mustard Seed Ministry” that allows kids to plant seeds in gardens at the market and learn basic gardening skills.

The market has a food donation program too. Produce donated by vendors is delivered to the Dorcas House—a home for homeless women and children.

tasty acres squash

Our shoppers also bring donations of food to help serve the hungry. It’s truly our “church on Saturday mornings” with 2300 friends on Facebook. We are SNAP and WIC certified as well, so that shoppers at low-income levels can have healthy food options.

“This ministry may be the most significant thing we have done in a number of years,” said Dr. Randy Hyde, our senior pastor.

In addition to the Hillcrest Farmers Market, our church also supports other hunger-related concerns. We partner in the operation of the Food Pantry housed in a sister church, where our members volunteer to provide food to families. We also donate funds to purchase foods. Our Bible study literature is recycled and placed in the food bags.Barnhill stall

As part of our church centennial celebration in 2013, the Mission and Ministry team organized a church bake sale to benefit the national No Kid Hungry campaign. We had sales at the market and at church. Over $3,000 was raised, making it one of the most successful bake sales in the organization’s history.

We also host a community Thanksgiving Dinner each year and invite our neighbors and staff/students at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus near our church to come enjoy a free meal with us.

PHBC is involved with hunger in many ways. The Hillcrest Farmers Market, Food Pantry, bake sales for No Child Hungry and Thanksgiving Dinner help us put those concerns into action.

See additional information about the state of hunger in Pulaski County, Ark., courtesy of Map the Meal Gap, a project of Feeding America. Check out statistics for your area with this interactive online tool.


9 thoughts on “Baptists Fight Hunger—How to be missional? Little Rock church hosts Farmers Market

  1. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—The Cleveland County Potato Proect | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  2. Pingback: At the Table: Baptists Fight Hunger—A CBFblog series (Part 1) | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  3. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Mosaic Community Garden as a place of acceptance for all | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  4. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—CBF partner Seeds of Hope reflects on long history of hunger ministry | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  5. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Distributing food with dignity in Eastern North Carolina | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  6. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—40 years later, FBC Jonesboro still feeding thousands in Arkansas | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  7. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Westwood Baptist responds to empty shelves at local food pantry | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  8. Pingback: Baptists Fight Hunger—Starting a conversation about nutrition, not just hunger | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

  9. Pingback: Richmond’s Huguenot Road Baptist focuses on being Christ’s presence in overlooked places | Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Blog

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