Meeting the Needs

2 Corinthians 8:2:  In spite of their terrible ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and deep poverty have led them to be abundantly generous.
     There are needs in our community. Some are spoken, some are held in silence, some are held in shame.  We know there are students and families that struggle, finding it hard to make ends meet. The Seminary understands that hardships can happen, even to the wisest of stewards. An accident, an illness, a death in the family, the unexpected and the unusual all can lead down a path of frustration and financial hardship.
     That is the heart behind the Phillipian Fund. It is supported by gifts from persons within the community who wish to provide financial aid to students experiencing unexpected or unusual hardship or loss. Requests may be made personally or on behalf of others to any Community Formation staff, who will channel the requests appropriately. (Funds are not dispersed to pay normal household expenses.)
     Out of this Phillipian Fund, our Phillipian Food Pantry was created. There are many families, many students, that can financially make ends meet, but are “food insecure.”  They and their families struggle with hunger, with meeting the day-to-day food needs.  Food insecurity is defined as a “ state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”  There are a number of families here that utilize SNAP, which is the government’s food assistance (also known as food stamps).  But even with SNAP, their food money doesn’t always stretch through the month.  International students and their families usually cannot qualify for SNAP, and can sometimes suffer from hunger more often than others.  There are single parents in our community, right here within the seminary walls, that fret and worry over feeding their children and making ends meet.
     Are you aware of the needs? Did you know your next door neighbor may not be able to feed their family once a day, much less three times daily as most of us expect to eat?  Are you one of the 49.1 million in the United States that suffers from food insecurity?
     We understand there is sometimes shame and embarrassment in admitting our needs. We know that there are those in our community who are suffering, often in silence and embarrassment, as their stomachs rumble and the worry wears on them.  But we also know that we need to minister to one another, in the ways that we are able.
     So, a food pantry was created. It has been in existence for a year or so now, advertised by word of mouth.  We have had a few food drives to help stock it, including one this past fall as we gathered food during our Fun Run/Walk.  We also  moved the Pantry into the Community House, to make it more accessible. We want to be able to help one another meet the most basic of needs.   This is also one of the reasons that the Community Garden is open to all to harvest from the community beds, without cost, to help feed those in need.
     Community Formation, and Formation Ministries in particular, is desiring to connect those with needs to the resources that are available, including our Food Pantry.  If you are in need, or you know of someone within our community that could use assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hold this information in confidence, and in prayer.  We want those in our community to know that we honor their privacy.
     If you would like to donate food to the Pantry, or money to the Phillipian Fund, please contact our office. We can take any type of non-perishable food items, as well as paper goods like toilet paper, paper towels, etc.  Healthy and gluten-free options, as well as canned proteins like tuna or chicken,  would also be wonderful to receive, as many prepackaged foods don’t work well for those with allergies.
     We are so grateful for the generosity that this community has in caring for one another, and it is our deepest prayer that we will continue to love one another in such a way.  Thank you for loving your neighbor.

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