A Food Shelf Challenge

Date posted: Sunday 02 August 2020

This has been a challenging year for all of us. Whether we have needed to shift to working from home or adapting to having all social events cancelled, every household has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the many precautions that we have been asked to take. Following the death of George Floyd in late May, many of us have also wrestled with the reality of racism and economic inequities within our communities. We are increasingly aware of the needs and concerns of our near neighbors.


During these months of disruption, some of the greatest impact, however, has been on those persons and households without access to sufficient healthy food. During early June we witnessed this at the emergency food distribution that arose at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Midway. Thousands of households received groceries, diapers, and household supplies thanks to your spontaneous generosity in dropping off goods, contributing through online accounts, or volunteering in person. I thank you for that extraordinary willingness to help.


Also this spring, when we received news from our partners in ILAG that there was a dire need for food in the small communities they serve in Guatemala, you rallied to contribute $24,000 to purchase food for those isolated by the global pandemic. While long-term development efforts and work with local farmers in our companion churches in Guatemala and Tanzania will be needed, it is important to rally with direct assistance when the need for food is urgent.


Heightened Food Bank Demand Expected

As the emergency distribution efforts in the Midway were winding down, I had a conversation with Mary McKeown, CEO of Keystone Community Services. I asked her what the Lutheran community could do to be most helpful. She indicated that all local food shelves will face heightened demand in the late summer months. She told me, “You can make a difference.”


Second Harvest, the food bank within this synod’s borders, estimates just such a surge in the demand in the remaining weeks of summer and early fall. I am so cheered by the recent announcement from Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Peggy Flanagan that $11 million dollars will be donated from CARES funding to the 300 food shelves and seven food banks in Minnesota. What an appropriate use of public funding that is to reduce the number of children and elders and families who are hungry at the end of the day.


At the same time, I want to invite you into this larger challenge. Even before the governor’s announcement, I had been praying about the difference the congregations of this synod could make to address hunger in our local communities. What if we Lutherans rallied to raise $50,000 to address this need this summer?


Many congregations regularly collect food and money offerings for the food shelf in your neighborhood or the food giveaway in your congregation. I am not describing something we have not done before, but in this odd year of the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest in our cities, let’s dig deeper to impact neighbors where we live.



Can the 110 congregations and new starts of the Saint Paul Area Synod send an additional $50,000 to food shelves or food banks in the remaining months of 2020?

I am willing to bet that we can. In fact, I have already mailed a check to the food shelves nearest to my home – Francis Basket, Keystone, Merrick and Department of Indian Work in St. Paul. Will you join me in doing the same through your congregation?


Raise the money in any way you like – a cash offering at an outdoor service, checks forwarded from your congregation, designated funds for community efforts, or even thousands of quarters and dimes. Your congregation can record its donations in this brief Google form.


While there are many things we must wait to do when the pandemic is past, this is one thing we can do together as a synod even now. Let’s make that difference for our neighbors.


In God’s service,

Patricia Lull, Bishop