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May 20, 2017
A New Partnership with New Bethany Ministries
By Charis Lindrooth
Recently we have launched the Community Supported Accessible Food initiative. One of the primary goals goal of this initiative is to make fresh, local produce accessible to those who face food scarcity. We are doing this is through partnerships with local organizations who share this common interest.
New Bethany Ministries is now officially one of these partners. Located in the south side of Bethlehem, New Bethany Ministries served over 57,000 meals to more than 1,700 unique individuals in 2016 alone. They also offer a significant food pantry open five days a week.
New Bethany Ministries serves a cross-section of the local population and their services are utilized by many people for many diverse reasons. Within the past few years New Bethany has experienced an increase in working poor individuals and families requiring services, as well as an increase in the number of vulnerable populations including children and the elderly.
Red Earth Farm is prepared to provide fresh, sustainably grown produce, ensuring that guests of the New Bethany Food Pantry have access to nourishing produce, recently harvested and grown on a Lehigh County farm. Each week of the growing season the New Bethany Pantry will be able to select items which will arrive in 5 bulk boxes every Wednesday. We estimate that the produce will provide vegetables for approximately 10 families each week, with a goal of increasing that number if the project is successful, and the need apparent.
The cost of this “Bulk Share” is funded in part by Red Earth Farm. The remaining cost depends on donations by individuals and organizations who have an interest in combating food scarcity in our urban regions.
A special thanks to the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting for kicking off this partnership with a substantial donation!
Group donations totaling $114/week, or $2500 for the entire 22 week season, June through October, are needed. A single tax-deductible donation of just $45 ensures that approximately 1 family will have fresh, nutritious, locally grown produce as part of their meals for a month.
Tax-deductible donations of ANY amount can be made directly to New Bethany Ministries, tagged with “Red Earth Farm,” or online through the New Bethany Portal.
For over thirty years, the mission of New Bethany Ministries has been to provide opportunities for a secure future to the homeless, hungry, poor and mentally ill of the Lehigh Valley. Our organization’s goal is to help families and individuals who are capable to become self-sufficient and live independently. We also strive to identify and optimize opportunities to improve the quality of life for our guests who cope with mental illness, disabilities, and/or extreme poverty.
As the only comprehensive provider of basic services in a central location in the Lehigh Valley, New Bethany Ministries offers services through the following programs:
· Transitional Housing Program: 13 single room units of short-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families (both single and two-parent families) referred by Northampton and Lehigh Counties and with supportive services from providers. Our Transitional Housing Program is one of two programs in the Lehigh Valley that keeps families together as they work towards self-sufficiency and long-term stability (most Lehigh Valley organizations house dad separately from mom and the children).
· Restoration House Apartments: 10 apartments providing long-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families requiring enrollment in and completion of an educational program (both single and two-parent families). Additional goals of this program include increasing income via sustainable employment and securing permanent housing.
· Wyandotte Apartments: 7 permanent housing apartments for low-income families, most of whom are graduates of the transitional housing programs of New Bethany Ministries. Apartments are subsidized by the Bethlehem Housing Authority.
· Single Room Occupancy Program:
o Bethlehem: 15 single room occupancy units of case-managed housing in Bethlehem for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Columbia House: 20 case-managed single room occupancy units subsidized through Lehigh County Housing and one Section 8 apartment in Coplay, PA for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Grace House: 6 case-managed single room occupancy units in Allentown, PA for chronically homeless adult men and women, in partnership with the Lehigh Conference of Churches and Grace Episcopal Church.
· Mollard Hospitality Center: comprised of:
o The Meal Center – providing two meals daily to about 150 people Monday through Friday; a continental or hot breakfast and a hearty, nutritious lunch which is served by volunteer teams. Breakfast is also served two Sundays and Saturdays a month and special meals are served on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas thanks to generous volunteers.
o Emergency Food Pantry – Three-day food baskets are distributed to households residing in the 18015 area monthly. This program supports about 250 households a month.
o A Day Shelter open 8-4 Monday through Friday, with additional hours from December 1st through March 31st.
o Wellness Services: A twice-monthly primary medical care clinic run in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network “Street Medicine” Program, and weekly life skills and mental health referral services through a bilingual representative run in partnership with Haven House.
o Other services include: the only free, public showers in the Valley, referrals to local services, as well as access to clothing, laundry, mail address services, and case management.
· Representative Payee Program: Homelessness prevention program providing financial case management, including direct bill payment, for low-income adults suffering from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
March 12, 2017
Making Food Accessible
A New Initiative
When I met the Farmer many years ago I fell in love with his passion to serve the underserved. Over the years we have had many conversations about how we might make a difference in communities that have difficulty accessing local, fresh produce.
Several obstacles prevent many people from benefitting from fresh produce. Among these are expense and limited availability. So-called “Food Deserts,” communities with very limited food choices, have come to public awareness. These communities may be home to many people without consistent use of an automobile, who are forced to do their grocery shopping on foot, by mass transit or when they can get a ride. People in this situation may need to take valuable time from crowded work and family schedules to travel long distances in order to simply find good quality fresh food. Otherwise, they may be limited to the worn-out produce at the corner grocer or quick mart. This is both a rural and urban problem. These Food Deserts can be found in neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading and in many rural towns as well.
To us, this seems both ironic and unnecessary, considering the abundance of good fresh food produced in our area.
This lack of access to good quality fresh food has negative repercussions on people’s lives. The consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has measurable health benefits. It is an affordable and proactive way for people to improve their health and avoid much higher health related expenses and challenges further down the road.
Giving people the ability to better control their own health simply by making better food choices is empowering and a smart way of helping to address the ever rising cost of health care.
Red Earth Farm wants to take a step towards providing access to fresh local produce for some of these communities who not currently have it. We are launching Community Supported Access to Food (CSAF). Through this initiative we hope to reach out to underserved families with the help of community partners. Community partners include organizations, institutions or even individuals who can help us better identify families that will truly benefit from this effort.
We aim to work with our partners to make our fresh produce and other farm products accessible to families who currently lack access.
How you can help?
Connect us with community partners: Connect us with someone who might wish to work with us in this effort. Identify neighborhood centers, synagogues, churches or any organization that has interest in food access in their community. If possible, personally introduce us to people in your community who can help with this initiative. It always helps to have a personal connection to build trust and open the conversation.