We Care Food Ministry continues to serve the needy
We Care Food Ministry at Faith Presbyterian Church provided food for 862 people during December, which included more than 300 kids and more than 50 elderly.
Faith Presbyterian Church Pastor Dr. Timothy Halverson explained that one of the church’s retired members began the We Care Food Ministry 25 years ago after seeing how many kids were hungry while he volunteered at schools for physical education and sports.
“He stood up in front of the congregation and asked if we care about the kids in the community,” Halverson said. The question received good feedback and We Care Food Ministry began.
When the ministry first started, volunteers distributed food through guidance counselors at schools to feed the children. Halverson explained that 25 years ago it was very modest, but now it has become a major activity that involves dozens of volunteers and financial support to feed those in need.
Marian Grasso moved to Cape Coral from New Jersey three years ago and began searching for a new church where she could become a member. After finding Faith Presbyterian Church, she decided to get involved in We Care Food Ministry since she had some extra time to volunteer.
Now as the director of the food ministry, Grasso works with approximately 10 volunteers who help her feed those in need every Friday morning.
“I have wonderful volunteers who work with me,” she said about the dedicated team of individuals. “We couldn’t do what we do without them, they are really a fabulous team of volunteers.”
Halverson said for 23 years, volunteers fed between 50 to 100 people a month by donating food. That number changed last month when they served 224 families, which was a total of 862 people.
Grosso said in December 2009 they fed 102 families, which was a total of 357 individuals.
Grosso explained that from Thanksgiving through New Year’s they always see an increase in the number of people they feed.
Halverson explained that there is both good and bad news associated with helping that many people.
“The good news is we were able to help them out,” he said.
On the other hand, Halverson explained that “a lot of people don’t see poverty in Cape Coral.” He said that there are a lot of children, families and elders who are struggling to feed themselves.
“There is a need right now. Until we get through this recession, we need to pull together,” he said. “We are feeding people who are college educated who would love to work and find a job, but they can’t find one. We are living in difficult times.”
Last June, We Care Food Ministry served 126 families, which was a total of 454 people, and in July they served 168 families, which was a total of 514 individuals.
Grosso said they make sure everyone has a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and are provided with a ham, trimmings and Christmas cookies for Christmas.
Faith Presbyterian Church also provided 363 children with Christmas presents and gift certificates through its Christmas giving tree program.
Grosso said since the Harry Chapin Food Bank now accepts donations of pet food they were able to provide cat food and dog food for the first time this year.
“They are totally blown away that we would even think of that,” she said about giving out pet food.
Grosso said she enjoys volunteering because of the satisfaction she gains from knowing that someone will have food on their table.
“It is a wonderful thing,” she said about being able to feed the people in the community that really need it. “Some people are very overwhelmed when they see what we are giving them.”
Halverson expressed that members of Faith Presbyterian are strong supporters of Harry Chapin Food Bank and Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated.
“This is not something that one church or organization can do alone,” he said about the We Care Food Ministry. “We could not do it without Harry Chapin.”
Grosso explained that they have a small budget set aside for the food ministry just in case they fall short of some of the basic foods. The members of the church also donate food every week to help support the food ministry.
The food ministry has had to change its location for a second time, so it could move into a bigger space to accommodate all those in need.
Halverson said the church bought a house, so they could relocate the food ministry and expand the space they currently have to provide their services to more.
Grosso said the building is currently undergoing renovation with the hope that they can move in at the end of February. She is excited about the building because it will provide them with the ability to accommodate more people, along with the opportunity to grow the We Care Food Ministry.
“Giving someone a little lift is basically what it is all about,” she said.