In addition to food distribution, we have several programs that help our partner ministries meet the food needs of those families and individuals living in their communities.
Our Voucher Box program allows our partners to care for people with a one-week supply of groceries without having to worry about purchasing, storing, and running a food pantry. These vouchers are distributed to churches and individuals that have a relationship with CSM as well as a relationship with someone in need. Through the voucher system, we are able to reach and connect with people on a regular basis. This system also ensures that the food is being distributed through a relationship, not simply a need.
Our Compassion Pack program provides snacks to help meet food needs of students while they are away from school, as the majority of inner city students eat at least two meals a day at school and are often left to find food on their own when school is not in session. Compassion Packs can be sponsored for $5 per pack.
Through our Birmingham Sharing Gardens program, we help run seven community gardens, including gardens in North Birmingham, Woodlawn, Fairfield, West End, Pratt City, and East Lake, as well as two in-ground gardens and an aquaponics garden at our Ministry Center in Avondale. These gardens enable community members to supplement their food pantries and care for their church members and neighbors. They also provide opportunities for children participating in summer camps to learn, eat and understand the process of growing their own food.
We started our aquaponics system in 2015 and are so excited to be able to grow additional food for our food ministry. "Aquaponics is the cultivation of fish and plants together in a constructed, recirculating ecosystem utilizing natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients. This is an environmentally friendly, natural food-growing method that harnesses the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics without the need to discard any water or filtrate or add chemical fertilizers." (Aquaponic Gardening Community, Nov 2010) With this method, we can grow year-round, grow more plants per square inch than traditional gardening, and provide a place for others to come and learn!
CSM’s Food Ministry provides our partners with opportunities to increase the work they are able to do in their communities on a regular basis. With CSM's ability to purchase large quantities at a low cost, receive large donations from corporate partners, and distribute donations gathered by community and church programs, we are able to come alongside our partners and help them to successfully reach the communities that they serve.
Each year, we receive hundreds of thousands of pounds of food from a variety of organizations and distribute that food to nearly 50 different ministries and agencies, helping these organizations care for more people and increase their opportunities to serve their communities. We have the capacity to serve small churches and ministries in the city as well as large non-profits such as Brother Bryan Mission, Changed Lives Christian Center, and The Lovelady Center.
In 2014, our largest food donors included Wood Fruitticher, Greater Full Gospel (Publix), Flowers Bakery, and Buffalo Rock.
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