By Linda Hensley
First Baptist Church of Burnsville is fighting hunger and helping the food insecure with two projects: the Good Eats Soup Kitchen and the Seeds of Hope Garden. Both projects allow our members a hands-on ministry to help those in need in our community.
Good Eats Soup Kitchen
Good Eats ministry feeds anyone who wants a healthy hot meal every Monday evening with the assistance of cook teams. Area churches and service groups provide cook teams of 5-7 individuals who work a five-hour shift under the guidance Good Eats coordinator Billy Garcia.
The FBC Burnsville team has chosen to cook once each quarter, and we prepare pasta, meat sauce, salad, bread, cookies and fresh fruit. We serve approximately 200 meals. Sometimes the meat we serve is venison from the Hunters for the Hungry program and other times we serve turkey or ground chuck from Manna Food Bank.
This summer, we were able to add fresh vegetables—yellow squash, chard, leeks, green peppers, zucchini and season them with fresh herbs from the community garden. The entire kitchen smelled wonderful!
One guest said you could smell the food from down the street. The veggies were sautéed and mixed with spaghetti sauce from Manna Food Bank. We added meat, pasta and topped with cheese!
We prepared five trays that each fed 40 people. Salads were prepared from lettuces from a local producer. We had peppers, carrots and tomatoes to add to the salads. Five women from our church each made four-dozen cookies for dessert. Slices of fresh bread made for a wonderful meal!
We boxed and delivered 165 hot meals to the families in need in our community. Then, we served the hot meal in our fellowship area. About 25 people eat on-site every week.
The meals are prepared at a cost of about $1.25 per person. In addition to those who volunteer on our cook team at FBC Burnsville, many others help contribute to the cost. We all have received a wonderful blessing in this effort!
Seeds of Hope Community Garden
In the spring of 2013, FBC Burnsville approved a mission project to develop a portion of the church’s property into the Seeds of Hope Community Garden including a children’s garden and play area. FBC committed $2,000 as start-up funding and also administers the project. However, a variety of community groups are involved.
We are partnering with the following local groups: Centro de Enlace, Reconciliation House, Higgins Memorial United Methodist Church, Yancey County Cooperative Extensive Service, Yancey County Health Department, Yancey County 4-H, Carolina Farm Credit and Good Eats Soup Kitchen.
Six raised beds were completed and planted this summer. The beds were grown by church members and the produce is distributed through our partners at Reconciliation House, Higgins UMC and Good Eats Soup Kitchen. We are adding six additional beds and plan to plant fall crops too.
At FBC Burnsville, our congregation has developed and approved the following goals to guide our ministries:
1. To be missional stewards of God’s resources by providing the land, start-up funds and labor for a community garden.
2. To build effective relationships with those who are marginalized in our community, including Hispanic residents, the poor, hungry and homeless.
3. To provide opportunity for Biblical literacy and Christian education.
See additional information about the state of hunger in Yancey County, N.C., courtesy of Map the Meal Gap, a project of Feeding America. Check out statistics for your area with this interactive online tool.
Previous posts in this series:
Part 7 — The Cleveland County Potato Project