Emmanuel Baptist Church of Albany, NY, and six other congregations in the area have combined their energies to provide services to their needy neighbors through FOCUS Churches of Albany. FOCUS celebrates the common calling of the churches involved to be God’s servant people in a broken and hurting world.
Last summer, with the help of an ABCUSA Matthew 25 Grant, FOCUS kicked off Food Empowerment 2014, working to strengthen families to have more control over access to fresh produce. The project goal is to empower low income individuals in Albany, who experience food insecurity, to learn how to grow, cook, and have access to and choices for an adequate supply of safe, nutritious, and appropriate food items.
Gardening in a Bucket is an important component of the ministry. Guests of the Food Pantry were able to take home container gardens which included pots, soil, seedlings, and expert advice on how to grow tomatoes, green peppers, and cabbage. The Pantry also gave out more than 100 seed packets. Many of the guests had gardened before but now had no space for a traditional garden. They were enthusiastic about container gardening and many took home multiple pots as well as seedlings. There were 133 households enjoying fresh produce through their participation in Gardening in a Bucket this year.
Gardening in a Bucket (GIAB) for Kids is a combination art/gardening event. Children decorate pots as they like, then plant cherry tomato seedlings in them. GIAB for Kids went “On the Road,” taking the project to a local family homeless shelter and also to two free day camps for underprivileged children. These children came from low-income urban families and had never gardened before. In all, 52 children participated in the project this year. They had a great time, and the volunteers who ran the events did too!
The FOCUS Churches of Albany are truly serving as the hands and feet of Christ to their hungry neighbors.
The Matthew 25 Grant, sponsored by ABCUSA, is funded by a generous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” Ministries must be in relationship with American Baptist Churches to be eligible to apply. Awards for the Matthew 25 grant are made twice a year, in April and October, with application deadlines of March 1 and September 1. To view the guidelines and download the application form, click here.