A Disciples church in Kansas is raising thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables to help feed the hungry. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Pittsburg, Kan., is in its second year of growing vegetables on land located behind the church. Volunteers from the church and community help tend the Pittsburg Community Garden on approximately three acres.
The corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe and other vegetables grown in the garden are given to Wesley House, a food pantry which has seen the number of folks needing food assistance grow substantially this year.
“With nearly 18 percent of our community living in poverty, the local food pantry becomes a vital source of food for those in need,” said Kevin Arensman, senior pastor of First Christian in Pittsburg. “With the help of our volunteers and our food donations, they are able to stretch their ability to give to people who are hungry.”
Last year, the church was able to raise and donate more than 3,200 pounds of vegetables to the needy. But this summer, the garden was enlarged and has already donated more than 4,445 pounds of food to the pantry. “This year we doubled the size of the garden and have a goal to donate 10,000 pounds of food,” said Rev. Arensman. In addition, the church plans to increase the capacity and efficiency of the garden by purchasing a tractor. But first it will have to raise the money.
“The Pittsburg Community Garden has been selected to compete for a Pepsi Grant of $25,000,” Arensman said. “This is through Pepsi Cola, and would fund a tractor for the garden, a sign for better visibility, as well as handicapped accessible garden plots that we plan to build this winter.” The tractor’s expected to cost approximately $23,000.
The church is asking anybody who would like to help it win the $25,000 to visit the website http://www.refresheverything.com/pcg everyday during the month of September and vote for the Pittsburg Community Garden in the Refresh Pepsi Project.
“The first time it will take two minutes to log in and enter a password,” said Arensman. “Everyone can participate with this voting as it doesn’t require much effort, beyond typing and clicking.” People can vote once per e-mail address every day. They also may vote by text from their cellular phones by texting 102137 to PEPSI (73774).
By: James Patterson