Feeding God’s people with love

by Pam Tinsley

“Food is Free” says the sign.

When feeding our families, many of us choose “farm to table.” My friend from church, Reberta, just recently discovered a new connection: “front yard to table.” Early this spring she decided to convert part of her front yard into a garden. She had just learned about a community food-sharing program, Food is Free 253. Food is Free’s mission is to nurture community and grow food while helping to gain independence from broken agricultural systems.  A key purpose of the gardens and sharing tables is to help nurture stronger communities by providing opportunities to gather and share stories. Reberta realized that her corner lot would be ideal for such a ministry.

Reberta and her neighbor signed up for the program, acquired two large vegetable planter boxes, bought veggie starts, and began planting. As the vegetables grew, they began harvesting them and setting them out on a sharing table for neighbors to pick up as they pass by. Not only do Reberta and her neighbor set out the produce they’ve grown themselves, they’ve also received donations from local farmers, including an allotment from the Washington Potato Growers who donated 200,000 pounds of potatoes to local communities. Reberta uses cash donations to purchase canned goods, powdered milk, and dry and canned soups.

With her Food is Free ministry, Reberta is feeding God’s people in two ways. Certainly, her neighbors are being fed with healthy, nourishing vegetables directly from the source. But Reberta also is providing a way that neighbors can connect with one another over a table of vegetables — a real gift during these times of isolation. By combining her love of gardening with her love of people, Reberta ministers in her daily life and shows her neighbors how Christ’s love feeds her and all of God’s people.

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