Category Archives: Hunger

Five Fruitful Years

Last week

Loaves & Fishes celebrated

It’s 5th Anniversary.

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That doesn’t sound like very long.

But if anyone has ever

Built a non-profit from scratch

They know what has gone into

Those five years.

Lots of work

Lots of mistakes

Lots of love.

For those of you who don’t know

Loaves & Fishes is a client choice food pantry

That helps to feed our hungry neighbors.

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Lots of our hungry neighbors.

About 752 families each month

We strive to give them healthy food choices

Things they can’t always afford.

The food comes from

Our “Mother Ship”

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

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From local residents who contribute to our food drives

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From generous donors who believe in our mission

From local grocery stores who give us their leftovers.

The work is done by

A great staff

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Led by our forward thinking Executive Director Carrie

And dedicated volunteers.

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It takes 20 – 25 volunteers to open our doors each day

To drive the truck to pick up food donations.

Load and sort the food.

Stock the shelves.

Do the intake interviews.

Be a shopper helper helping clients make smart food choices.

Committed Board of Directors members

Nutrition class teachers

And those of us who work in our garden.

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All of this so that elderly neighbors have good nutritious food

Given to them out of love

By someone who cares.

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And young families working hard

But not quite making it to the end of the month

Knowing they have someplace to get help

So their children can eat.

And it’s done

With amazing efficiency.

It costs about $33.00 a month to help a family.

Families come to us for help

On average 4 times a year.

It’s been an amazing ride.

Those of us who were there at the beginning

Were smiling all week long

Seeing what so many have worked so hard

To create.

Loaves & Fishes has been a big part of my life

Over the last years.

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I can’t think of anyplace I would have rather been.

Thank you to all of you who have done your part

And more.

So, if you are within shouting distance

I hope you’ll come and see what we are all about.

Maybe even think about volunteering or donating.

It’s an amazing place

Filled with God’s love for all.

Gail

http://www.loavesandfishesnwok.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Hunger, Uncategorized

PASSIONS COLLIDING

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Yesterday began with a long list

And a few hardy souls.

It was the first spring clean up day

At Faith Farm.

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Over the winter two of my passions collided.

Feeding hungry people and gardening.

Hope Outreach, another local non-profit

Had built a wonderful garden about 8 years ago.

Recently they decided that they needed to find someone else to operate it.

Fortunately, that word got to Loaves & Fishes

And as of the 1st of the year

Faith Farm became a production and teaching garden of Loaves & Fishes.

Imagine a place where we can grow vegetables

Pick them in the morning

And give them to pantry clients in the afternoon.

Fresh organic produce in the hands and tummies

Of those least likely to get have access to fresh organic produce.

You gotta love a deal like that!

 

But remember we run Loaves & Fishes on a shoestring

With 99% volunteers. 

Faith Farm will be the same

One paid employee

A passionate, knowledgable gardener named Charity

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And lots of volunteers.

But where will they come from

We had maybe four people who worked the beds at L & F last year

But we need legions of volunteers to pull this one off.

So it was yesterday morning that we planned our first volunteer work day.

We spread the word and hoped for 10 maybe 12 people.

Bit by bit we stumbled into the crisp morning air.

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And began to attack Charity’s very ambitious list.

People kept showing up.

Mostly middle school kids.

4 – H boys

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honor society members & cheerleaders

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grandchildren

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kids

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21 in all

We chatted and worked and experienced new things.

A few early spears of asparagus right out of the ground

Made a first time fun mid morning snack.

The sun and the sight of it all warmed my heart.

We are meeting our mission from the beginning.

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Growing healthy vegetables and showing others how to do the same.

Then there’s the added joy of community.

Bringing all kinds of people to a new place

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Having fun, learning

And helping others.

Saturdays don’t get much better than that!

Gail

Your next chance to help at Faith Farm  and Loaves & Fishes is Saturday April 12 during Family Volunteer Day.

Sign up by April 2nd and you’ll get a free t-shirt and lunch courtesy of the sponsor 1st Presbyterian Church. 

Call 580-540-9830 to join in the fun.  Or message Jennifer on our Facebook page Loaves & Fishes – NW Oklahoma

 

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Filed under Community Garden, Gardening, Gratitude, Hunger, Raised Beds, Spring Clean Up

COMMUNITY GARDENING

I have long been interested in community gardens.

They come in several different configurations.

It can be a large area divided into plots.

Each plot tended by a different gardener.

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Or it can be a place where a community comes together

To grow things.

For themselves

Or for others.

This spring I finally get to participate in a community garden.

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You may recall I wrote about planting it a few months ago.

It’s located at our new local client choice food pantry

And food resource center named Loaves & Fishes.

At the moment this garden consists of 10 raised beds.

 

Built as an Eagle Scout project.

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Then our volunteer extraordinaire David

Added 3 – 250 gallon rain barrels that are catching the rain water

From the roof of the building.

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After a 2 inch rain

They are full.

We’ve been cutting greens each week

To share with the clients who come to us for food.

Imagine going to a food pantry and getting a bag of freshly cut spinach

Or lettuce.

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Or Swiss chard.

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It’s just heavenly!

But we’ve had a few challenges along the way.

As it turns out our garden sits at the bottom of a slight bowl.

And it’s been

Well a bit of a pond.

So Saturday was Family Volunteering Day

At Loaves & Fishes.

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75 volunteers from the community,

A Cub Scout Troop

As well as the corporate sponsors for the day

Triangle Insurance

And Central National Bank

Came to help.

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They made quick work of spreading

A truck load of fill sand.

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Then moving gravel into the paths between the beds.

Within a few hours we went from pond

To problem solved.

It was an amazing transformation.

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Now this is really more hardscape work

Than actual gardening.

And we may have completely worn out this group of volunteers.

But the thing is

We are community.

Cheerfully helping

To solve a problem.

Growing great food

For people who really need it

And appreciate the care

We take to help them.

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For years my passion has been feeding people in need.

Now at Loaves & Fishes I get to watch others find their passion.

If you haven’t found a way to help others.

I hope you find a passion

And a home for it

That is as much fun as this wonderful community.

Or better still

Come and join us

Gardening for good and helping feed others.

Gail

P.S.  If you have extra produce or eggs from your own garden we would appreciate

Your bring them to Loaves & Fishes.  We’ll find them a grateful home!

 

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Filed under Community Garden, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hunger, Lettuce, Rain Barrels, Raised Beds, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Uncategorized, Vegetables

“PERFECT” GARDENING DAYS

I’ve never been a fan of the word perfect.

After all I grew up on a farm

Where nothing is ever perfect.

I did marry an attorney

Whose job it is to be perfect

God has such a sense of humor!

I try not to use that word.

But there are times when it truly does apply.

This weekend turned out to be full of “perfect” gardening days.

Which is surprising since last Wednesday we had an ice storm

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Featuring frozen Tulips

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And Redbud trees.

So when yesterday dawned cool and cloudy

I was ready to garden.

As you may recall last fall we opened a new client choice food pantry

For hungry people in this part of the state.

We serve over 800 individuals and families each month.

And we are working hard to provide them with healthy food choices.

So naturally we decided we’d grow some of that food.

A generous soul named Michael has worked tirelessly to organize this project.

A month ago 10 raised beds were built.

And yesterday morning we planted them.

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With plants and seeds donated from Atwoods.

And the help of volunteers from Chisholm Schools.

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In 3 hours we planted 10 raised beds.

Stuffed them full of early season veggies and greens.

What a gift!

The day continued with…what else…a nap!

Nothing better than napping on a sunny spring afternoon.

Then I began to work on the roses that I have so ignored all spring.

Each rose got a good drink of water laced with 1/4 cup of Epsom salts.

They gulped it right up.

Next I finally got around to cutting away the dead

And tying New Dawn to the fence

It gets a bit unruly from time to time.

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A couple of quick flower arrangement for Sunday’s church services

And the day was done.

This afternoon was less focused.

Just piddling around

Trimmed the hedges outside the kitchen window

Pulled more of that @#$#@ poa anna grass

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Before it goes to seed.

Planted a flat of alyssum

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The one spring annual that can withstand

Next week’s promised last freeze

Then spent a few minutes sitting among the tulips

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They are like children.

When you bend down to their height

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You enjoy them so much more.

An unexpected clap of thunder

Brought a soft brief spring shower.

God watered everything in.

It was a “perfect” gardening weekend!

Gail

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Filed under Alyssum, Bouquets, Dead Heading, Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Hunger, Redbud Trees, roses, Seeds, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips, Uncategorized, Vegetables

SEEING

Recently I bought a new camera.

Just a simple point and shoot that hopefully will give better color to the pictures I share.

I’ve noticed something since I got it.

I see differently

more, actually.

Can’t wait for the sun to come up to go into my garden and take pictures.

Pictures of the same flowers and bugs that I’ve known for years.

Decades really.

Late summer visitor - Orb spider

But I’m seeing them differently through this new lens.

Veronica spicata, for instance.

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It’s not a terribly showy flower.

I’ve called it a “filler flower” for years.

Probably not politically correct to cast it in such a subservient role.

I’ve even threatened to dig it all up from time to time.

But…the truth is it’s a great flower

now that I see it through a new lens.

And cockscomb

Sure, I’ve marveled over the big “brainy” blooms

Now I’m fascinated by the clusters of feathery blossoms as they rustle in the breeze.

I’m suddenly drawn to the things that have been right in front of me.

Things I walk past each day

Yet don’t truly see.

Like this short but mighty Gloriosa Daisy that just begged me to take its picture.

Seeing

It’s so important.

Critical really in much of life.

Perhaps seeing is the thing that ties the varied parts of my life together.

Because I garden

I observe.

My mind keeps going to another of my passions.

Hunger

How to solve it.

It, like veronica spicata, is right in front of us.

Everyday.

We may not see it.

We likely don’t realize it’s even there.

But it is

Everywhere

Close at home

And far away

If we look – choose to see.

Recently we opened a food pantry at the high school.

It will provide food for kids who have none on weekends.

It has refrigeration so kids can have access to fresh food

A staple for so many of us.

A luxury for so many more.

Kelly is planning to plant another “field” of lettuce this fall.

Harvesting last spring's lettuce

I’ll have a row or two.

We’ve made arrangements to have volunteers come and cut and take it to the high school.

Lettuce bagged and ready to deliver

Seeing a need right in front of us.

Planting a way to meet that need.

Seeing the world connected.

Is it any wonder I love to garden!!!

Gail

P.S.  If you have extra fruit and vegetables you’d like to share, just let me know.

A potential fall tomato crop?

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Filed under cockscomb, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Hunger, Lettuce, Orb Spider, Tomato, Veronica Spicata