The Hunger Group facilitates the congregation's commitment
to end hunger. It raises and commits monies to projects that
promote access to food for needy people, locally and globally,
it mobilizes volunteered food for targeted groups and occasions,
it seeks to educate about hunger issues, and it advocates for
policies that reduce hunger. Its financial resources come from offerings, gifts and special endowed funds.
The Hunger Group may be contacted at Hunger@swarthmorepres.org. It is an open committee: all who are interested in addressing hunger are welcome to join. Typically, the Hunger Group meets on the 1st Sunday of the month. Please check the church calendar for exact dates and times.
SPC members can address hunger directly in the following ways:
SPC is a Bread for the World congregation. Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. One way this is accomplished is through an Offering of Letters, in which members write personal letters and emails to Congress. Each year, Bread selects one major policy issue to address, alternating each year between international and domestic issues.
SPC also works with the Presbytery of Philadelphia's hunger initiatives, both through direct volunteer work in local programs and advocacy.
Chester Eastside Ministries Food Pantry: Non perishable foods collected at SPC
Non-perishable foods are collected in large bins in the Outreach Center (Fellowship Hall lobby) for weekly delivery to the food pantry at Chester Eastside Ministries. Each month a different grocery list is suggested for donation to make the "meal of the month." Canned tuna and peanut butter are always needed; all non-perishable food items are accepted and appreciated.
Frozen casseroles are collected in the Fellowship Hall freezer for distribution to Mercy Hospice, a women's shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Casserole pans and recipes (changed monthly) are available on a shelf near the church office and. of course, in the Outreach Center (Fellowship Hall lobby).
Typically held in October, annual CROP (Communities Responding to Overcoming Poverty) Walks support the ministry of Church World Service through grassroots hunger-fighting efforts of partners in over 80 countries. It works on a pledging system: supporters pledge dollars per mile or per walk to those walking. In addition to funding food banks and community gardens, CROP Walk dollars provide tools which empower others to meet their own needs. 25% of the funds raised at each walk is set aside for local hunger relief. In past years those local funds have gone to organizations in nearby Chester, PA.
Each year the hunger task force leads the effort to help Chester Eastside Ministries celebrate Thanksgiving with the same traditional fare we enjoy in our own homes. Our church is the sole sustainer of this effort; through our generosity typically over 120 families are able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinners. Key items needed include turkeys (frozen), canned ham, canned vegetables, gravy, potatoes, cider or juice, cranberry jelly or sauce, stuffing, and, of course, dessert. We traditionally organize a "Pie-Share" for coffee hour on this Sunday; the idea is to bring enough pies that we share some over morning coffee and have plenty to give to our friends at Chester Eastside Ministries. For those who cannot get to the store easily, cash donations to purchase additional turkeys are greatly appreciated. Donations of food are dropped off behind the Fellowship Hall kitchen beginning at 8:30am on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. In 2009 Turkey Day provided 123 turkeys, 12 canned hams, and 1,248 items of food for Thanksgiving at CEM. David Herring and Judie Neale lead this effort.
Several endowment funds and annual donations provide resources to assist activates of SPC hunger-related projects. Each year about $5000 is provided to various causes. Occasional bequests augment this. We especially encourage small, regular gifts through Change for Hunger.
Change for Hunger
Through a program started many years ago by SPC member Fran Crosby, spare change is collected at the coffee table during Coffee & Fellowship, in the church office, and in the Outreach Center to contribute to hunger initiatives supported by the Presbytery of Philadelphia. The original project was called Pennies for Hunger and individuals and families would add a few pennies to a jar at home at each meal time to remember those who feel hunger.
Programs Currently Funded by the Hunger Group include:
Baby-manna - Babymanna
Babymanna is a division of Philabundance, the largest outreach to the hungry in the 5-county area in and around Philadelphia. Babymanna supplies baby formula and other baby needs to women and children. While WIC (Women, Infants, Children) provides help with formula, it often falls short of meeting ongoing needs of low income mothers and children; Babymanna helps to fill this gap.
Family Promise/Interfaith Hospitality Network - Interfaith Hospitality Network
IHN provides lodging and meals to local homeless families for four weeks each year. Most of the support is provided by volunteers from the congregation. Hunger Group supplements financially to cover the cost of food.
Silliman Water - Silliman Water Project
Silliman University, in the Philippines, where our mission co-worker Cobbie Palm serves as Director of Spiritual Formation at the Divinity School, now has a clean water processing station and training center on campus. The Hunger Group has recently allocated funds that will help provide clay pot filtration devices (and training on their use) appropriate for home use to families living in this area.