Back in early May, Faithful Families attended Resourceful Communities‘ Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Convening, which brought together folks from all across North Carolina to share resources, build skills, and strengthen HEAL programs. We walked away from the workshop with an amazing list of resources and tools for church communities. Justine Post, Faith & Food Coordinator, described innovative ideas of how churches can make the most of their resources to support policy, structural, and environmental changes (PSE) and healthy living. With her blessing, we would like to share them with you!
USING AND SHARING YOUR CHURCH RESOURCES
Churches have so many assets and resources to offer. Most likely, your church is already being used in ways to benefit the community. Whether you are considering PSE changes as part of the Faithful Families program or simply looking for new program ideas, Resourceful Communities’ list is full of great strategies that have already been successfully implemented in communities across North Carolina. These ideas can be taken and translated by communities across the country. Take a look and see what makes sense – and is exciting – for your faith community!
What can you do with a FELLOWSHIP HALL?
- Host a yoga, Zumba, or gym class during the week.
- Invite neighbors and communities over for a free community meal.
- Host a maker’s space for community members who sell their artwork.
- Organize and host community engagement meetings.
- Host a health fair or summit.
- Invite community partners (such as Girl/Boy Scouts, NA, AA, Or Al Anon) to host meetings.
- Host a tutoring program for local school kids.
What can you do with LAND?
- Host a farmer’s and artisan’s market in your parking lot and adjacent space.
- Lend your land to a local farmer in exchange for produce.
- Think outside the vegetable garden: Have you thought of bee hives, chickens, orchards, or pigs?
- Does your church have an unused parsonage? Consider offering housing for low-income community members.
- Build walking trails around your property to encourage active living and community connections.
- Invite a farmer to sell their produce after church on Sunday mornings.
What can you do with a KITCHEN?
- Store excess produce and other food goods to reduce food waste.
- Teach a cooking class using fresh, local ingredients.
- Host a workshop on canning and food preservation.
- Produce and sell value-added products (salsas, sauces, etc.) to generate funds to benefit your ministry.
- Serve as a drop-off site for farmers and growers who have excess produce, dairy or eggs.
What can you do with TRANSPORTATION?
- Distribute produce or food to communities in need.
- Turn it into mobile cold storage for a mobile market.
- Use to pick up excess produce/food from grocery stores, farms, and gardens.
- Organize and offer up a ride share program for community member without cars.
- Partner with a local non-profit and provide transportation for their HEAL programming needs.
Many faith communities find that these tools contribute to the implementation and sustainability of health eating and active living programs.
Starting and maintaining a mobile farmers’ market or food pantry might seem daunting for many faith communities. The Cool Bot Cold Storage provides information on how to turn any enclosed space into cold storage for refrigeration.
Volunteers are often the backbone of your program. Sign Up Genius is a free online tool that allows volunteers to stay communicated with one another, and allows people to sign up for certain tasks and shifts related to your programming. It’s easy, free, and user-friendly.
Churches across the country are coming up with innovative ways to leverage their resources, no matter how small or limited they might be. We hope this list has given you some fun and exciting ideas to share with your church leaders!