Our volunteers never cease to amaze us!  Each Friday in the summer months, volunteers invest nearly 300 hours to provide families in need with tens of thousands of dollars worth of fresh produce and kitchen essentials.  Now it may sound crazy, but summer is almost here!  We are already gearing up and preparing for our huge summer programs – Feed Our Kids and Grocery Giveaway.

The GRACE Grocery Giveaway campaign was born from our commitment to stewardship, one of our five core principles.  The Mobile Food Pantry began as a pilot program during the summer of 2015 to ensure perishable food items donated at the end of the week could be utilized for at-risk families to enjoy food over the weekend at the peak of their quality.  Popular demand and community support throughout the past few years have made Grocery Giveaway a GRACE tradition.

The program has worked seamlessly in conjunction with our Feed Our Kids program, and the experience has been richly rewarding for volunteers and receivers alike.  In a similar fashion to our Food Pantry, GRACE Grocery Giveaway maintains the dignity of each family member by allowing them to choose the food that works best with their family’s dietary needs and preferences.

Fresh, local produce is an essential element to nourished families.  Often, low-income families have little to no access to nutrient-dense food due to the cost-ratio between fresh produce and refined, processed food.  According to Food and Research Action Center, food-insecure families are most vulnerable to obesity, which often leads to a sedentary lifestyle, poor heart health and even diabetes. Inversely, children who receive nourishing food exhibit positive school behavior, improved sleep patterns and decreased body fat.

Each Friday during the summer, volunteers unload our GRACE Mobile Pantry, a truck filled with produce and kitchen staples to be given to families in neighborhoods where residents are most vulnerable to food insecurity.  You might not realize, but even within our community lie what are known as “food deserts,” areas, especially one with low-income residents, that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. GRACE Grocery Giveaway has been an invaluable resource in addressing the alarming issue of hunger.

Volunteers will be greatly needed to set up the marketplace for family members to collect the food, so if you have time between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Fridays we’d love to talk to you!  If you feel compelled to partner with GRACE to alleviate hunger, we’ll help you find a program that’s the best fit for you.  Whether it’s Grocery Giveaway, Feed Our Kids, GRACE Food Pantry or Community Garden, there are plenty of ways for individuals, businesses, civic groups and church congregations to pitch in!  Contact GRACE Development and Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Armand, to get started, or attend an upcoming Volunteer Orientation to serve at GRACE.