According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 figures, an estimated one in eight Americans were food insecure, equating to 40 million hungry Americans, 12 million of whom are children.
Hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort. We have all been hungry at times. However, food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household.
In Minneapolis, one of our Cornerstone Fund families is helping to sustain a community co-op grocer in a unique experimental ministry model. Using volunteers to operate every aspect of the store, the ministry reduces operational costs and empowers those in need, by inviting them to be a part of the solution. And this solution tangibly lowers their food bill.
More than 400 people volunteer two and a half hours a month to operate the grocer. Seventy-five percent of those volunteers are food insecure and receive a 25 percent discount on their own purchases.
The ministry attempts to dignify and empower, while practically meeting physical needs. The volunteers are not helpless or giftless. Instead, they’re harnessing their gifts to help the community and their own families. Founder Kurt Vickman, a former pastor, said the Good Grocer is a practical way to live out the church in the community and be “doers” of the gospel. It allows the community to take pride and have “skin in the game” rather than stand in line for handouts.
And the Good Grocer has plans beyond this store. You can read more about it on their site.