By creating marketing alliances between local farmers the and low-income community using the congregation as a conduit, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is building a better community-based food system.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
2005 USDA Community Food Projects grant recipient
0245 SW Bancroft St, Suite B
Portland, OR 97239
Phone: (503) 221-1054
Fax: (503) 223-7007
Email: [email protected]
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) is a statewide association of 17 Christian denominations working together to improve the lives of Oregonians through community ministry programs, ecumenical and inter religious dialogue, environmental ministry and public policy advocacy. Recognizing that the basic needs of food and shelter are not being met for many Oregonians, EMO programs – including the Northeast Emergency Food Program, Patton Home and Shared Housing – seek to meet those needs. The group also engages in public policy advocacy around food stamps, housing, livable wages and other issues. Additionally, EMO has become actively involved in working toward sustainability goals.
Ecumenical Ministries founded the Interfaith Network for Earth Concerns (INEC) in the early 1990s to connect and empower individuals and congregations to work for justice and the care and renewal of the earth. Jenny Holmes, INEC Program Director, said her group works hard to show the poor and disadvantaged that environmental issues affect their lives. “It’s one of the hardest things we do,” said Jenny Holmes. “Convincing people who wonder where their next meal is coming from to embrace conservation and environmental concerns is very challenging.” One link the group makes is connecting small farmers who have surplus crops with hungry people who need low-cost sources of food. INEC also provides resources for individuals, congregations, and other organizations that are interested in participating in a local, sustainable community-based food system. Holmes noted that the concept of sustainability and faith-based groups both share the core principles of stewardship, justice and concern for future generations.
INEC carries that message forward in the Interfaith Food and Farms Partnership, a project supported by a Community Food Project Grant. The project links food- and hunger-related efforts of local faith communities while raising awareness about the value of family farmers. The Partnership has conducted three community food assessments, holds classes and cooking clubs and supports a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Low-income members receive subsidized membership in the CSA. A pilot after-service farmers market at a partner church for new farmers (mostly immigrants and women) has been hugely successful.
By creating marketing alliances between local farmers the and low-income community using the congregation as a conduit, EMO is building a better community-based food system, and fulfilling its mission of earth stewardship, theological education and dialogue, public policy advocacy and greening congregations.
The Interfaith Food & Farms Partnership also promotes locally-grown food and helps low-income families through the “That’s My Farmer” coupon program, which serves five congregations and eight farms, reaching an estimated 7,000 people. Coupons are sold after services and in parish offices, and are redeemable at local farmers’ markets and participating farm stands. Ten percent of proceeds are used to provide coupons to low-income families. “Small farmers need our constant economic support and commitment,” said project coordinator Liv Gifford. “Locally grown food is a better choice for the environment and the local economy, in addition to just tasting a million times better.” One hundred percent of coupon sales eventually make their way to local farmers – that’s good for the local economy, good for the environment and makes for a healthier community.
EMO engages in public policy advocacy around food stamps, health insurance, housing, livable wages and other issues that bring relief for those who need it most. EMO’s current public policy priorities include hunger, poverty, affordable housing, work supports such as child care tax credit, farmworker needs, labor’s right to organize, the death penalty, campaign finance reform, health care, discrimination and separation of church and state.
Adapted from a field report by Maureen Landy Kelly.
To meet more people and organizations growing the movement for access to healthy, nutritious food, click through the WhyHunger Storytelling project.