BEND, Ore. - Nativity Lutheran Church has mounted a campaign to raise matching funds for a recent grant to it received for its emergency walk-in food pantry.
The Bend-based church recently received a $5,000 Lutheran Community Economic Outreach Bridge Grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. The funding was awarded to Nativity Lutheran based on its effectiveness in addressing basic needs of the local community through its food pantry program.
In addition to the base grant amount, Nativity has elected to participate in a complementary two-to-one challenge grant program sponsored by the Thrivent Foundation.
For every dollar the church raises from donors from now until March 31, the Thrivent Foundation will provide an additional 50 cents — up to $5,000 — in support of the food pantry.
Money-raising efforts are being spearheaded by the Bend Youth Collective, a youth group made up of middle-school and high-school students from Nativity, First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church.
"This grant represents a huge step forward in our efforts to help feed the hungry in our community," said Nativity Church Council President Lisa Bailey. "The pantry is one of many ways our church works to help at-risk families in Deschutes County."
According to Ruth Burleigh, who works with the food pantry, the pantry represents an important food source for the numerous low-income families who visit the pantry each Tuesday.
Last year, the pantry distributed 59,000 pounds of food — nearly 30 tons — and served 6,165 adults and children, including nearly 1,400 families.
Pantry operation, Burleigh noted, is an all-volunteer effort. One hundred percent of all of the money donated is used to purchase food.
Led by the Bend Youth Collective's efforts, Nativity is actively seeking donations from community members in an effort to receive the full $5,000 in matching funds from the Thrivent challenge grant.
"We realize it's ambitious to raise this amount of money before the end of March, but we hope people will respond and help us toward our goal," Bailey said. "For every dollar donated, $1.50 will be spent on food for people in need.
According to Kathy Larson, grants program manager for the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation, "Difficult economic conditions and high unemployment rates have caused many Americans to seek support for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter from local nonprofits. This grant program is designed to help effective organizations maintain their financial stability in the face of increased demand on their resources."
Those who would like to make donations to the Nativity food pantry may send checks to made out to Nativity Lutheran Church with Food Pantry noted in the memo line. They made be sent to Nativity Lutheran Church, 60850 Brosterhous Road, Bend, OR 97702. More information is available by calling the church office at 541-388-0765.
About the Nativity Food Pantry
The Nativity Food Pantry is an open-door emergency food pantry serving low-income residents who are homeless, underemployed, and unemployed -- many of whom live in southern Deschutes County.
The pantry has no overhead expenses. The church donates the space for the pantry and all food purchasing and distribution are handled by volunteers. One hundred percent of all of the money donated is used to purchase food.
To meet increasing demand and rising food costs, volunteers have worked to identify alternative funding sources, such as the Thrivent grant program, to augment private contributions from congregational members and others in the community.
In addition, the pantry maintains strong partnerships with other food banks and emergency-service programs to help maximize purchasing power while actively seeking donations of needed food items.
In contrast to many food pantries that hand out bags of preselected items, the Nativity pantry lets people select their own food items, minimizing waste and enhancing the dignity of those who visit the pantry.
"The pantry is stocked with basics — things like flour, cooking oil, tuna, and peanut butter," Burleigh said, noting those are the items in most demand.
About Nativity Lutheran Church
Nativity Lutheran was founded in 1988 at 60850 Brosterhous Road in Bend. The church offers a wide range of assistance programs to low-income residents of Deschutes County, including the Nativity Food Pantry, the Food Forest project and community garden, emergency shelter, and firewood ministry. The church received the 2010 PovertyBuster award from NeighborImpact, a local emergency-services umbrella organization.
Nativity Lutheran is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
The mission statement of Nativity Lutheran Church is "Called by the grace of God, we reach out to all people with the love of Jesus Christ."