Church-based hunger relief programs have demonstrated effectiveness in strengthening congregations by increasing volunteerism and engagement. These programs also impact communities by relieving food insecurity and increasing access to healthful meals.
Between 2012 and 2015, the volume of grant requests in this area has increased, largely due to the lingering effects of the recession. Because food issues remain critical, the Endowment’s Rural Church program area seeks to expand and enhance this work.
Our work with food system stakeholders helps us refine our grantmaking in this area. To learn from each other, we hosted two joint gatherings in 2014 for our food ministry grantees. Presented with the help of RAFI, the meetings included discussions about the role of funding in community-based work and financial planning for project sustainability. The 65 participants represented 26 rural United Methodist congregations; 100 percent reported that the information shared would benefit their food ministry.
In addition to its church-based grantmaking, the Endowment also has a history of working with experts and grantees on agricultural and economic development issues statewide. We seek to build on this work to address food insecurity at the system level.
In recent years, several philanthropic, governmental and community partnerships have emerged to address issues connected to agriculture and hunger relief. These collaborative efforts seek to improve North Carolina’s food system at multiple levels.