River Run Church of the Nazarene Outreach Report for 2016-2017 Church Year
Compassionate Ministries to our community: River Run continues to emphasize compassionate ministry and community outreach. The Watershed Project is an outreach effort of the River Run Church of the Nazarene, having a focus on helping people in the area that have a need for food.
Currently these food related ministries include:
- a small supplemental food pantry
- raise bed/container/community raised bed gardens
- free community fellowship dinners
- a gleaning project and food distribution
- gardening and other garden harvest related educational offerings.
- planning activities to establish a small individual and/or family farmers market to help fund some of River Run’s food related ministries.
The River Run Church of the Nazarene’s Watershed Project secured a small grant from the Kohl’s Cares About ME Program. River Run joined forces with the Anna Field Fernald Library and were assisted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to establish a community garden in Detroit, Maine. The community garden has served residents of area communities throughout the 2016 growing season.
The community garden was managed by the River Run Church of the Nazarene. The success of this project was made possible through the commitment of time and energy from sixteen volunteers from seven area towns. About 950 pounds of garden produce was harvested from the twenty 3X5 raised beds in the community garden.
Thirty households from eleven different area towns were served during the 2016 growing season. Five multigenerational families, nine adult households, six families with children, one elderly person, three young adult households, and six single individual households were served this season, reflecting a total of 62 people. These 62 people were served in one or two ways, either through distribution of fresh produce from the community garden or from attending a community dinners that prepared food with produce from the community garden. Most of the people served received fresh produce from the community garden. Some households benefited from both the distribution of fresh produce and by attending a community dinner. A few households received produce once during the growing season, but most households received produce multiple times throughout the season.
We have been able to preserve some of the community garden’s harvest for use this winter and next spring. We prepared the beds for the winter months and have started to make plans for the 2017 growing season. We look forward to working with all community volunteers and partners to increase the availability of fresh and locally grown produce to area residents again next year.
In addition to the Community Garden Project that was previously reported, River Run Church of the Nazarene was recognized as a community based hunger relief organization. We were able to expand our food distribution efforts. With assistance from a Cooperative Extension staff member and a Sebasticook Valley Hospital/Kohl’s Cares About ME staff person, we piloted a gleaning project during the 2016 growing season.
Through this gleaning project, eighteen different types of fruits and vegetables were gleaned. Four area farms and one business in a neighboring community donated produce to this project. Over 1200 pounds of produce was gleaned, valued at about $1,600. Eighty percent of the produce was distributed through River Run’s food pantry to households in several communities throughout the Sebasticook Valley area. About 6% of the gleaned food was prepared for use in the organization’s free community dinners and the remaining 14% of the food was preserved for use in future dinners. It is estimated that over fifty people benefitted from the gleaned fruits and vegetables this year.
- Increased Capacity to Serve
The River Run Church of the Nazarene continued to increase our capacity to serve people in need of food in 2016. With grant assistance from two Partners in Community Health (PICH) Program sponsors (Sebasticook Valley Health and Good Shepherd), we were able improve our food storage space by adding a 22 cubic foot upright freezer, two locking cabinets, and two shelving units. In addition to a previously donated 5 cubic foot box freezer, the Fairfield Church of the Nazarene donated a commercial grade refrigerator to the River Run Church of the Nazarene in 2016.