Want to Empower the Needy? Collaborate With Them.

 Indian Creek Christian Church, shying away from the traditional food pantry models, employs a unique program model of collaboration between the program’s administration/volunteers and those they serve. This charitable model of serving helps to build self-worth and empowerment for its members.

This is an article I wrote as apart of a state sponsored grant portfolio, Bright Ideas Indiana, researching and highlighting best nonprofit practices in the State of Indiana.

A decade ago, the most utilized food assistance program in Franklin Township was the Department of Natural Resources. If a family was struggling to get food on the table, calling the DNR and asking if any roadkill was available for pickup offered a convenient, if not messy, solution. Since then food assistance programs in the area have significantly evolved. In particular, the Indian Creek Christian Church (The Creek) Neighborhood Network has a program that has been a trailblazer in the field of charitable food distribution in Indiana. It is a sure improvement to roadkill.

What distinguishes The Creek’s Neighborhood Network from traditional food pantry models is the purposefulness of the program’s collaboration between the program’s administration/volunteers and those they serve. Each person that is a member of the Network gives monthly membership dues of $3 (which are leveraged into development, relationships and about $80 of groceries) and, every two weeks, commit to participating in the food distribution process. This participation has some members weighing and sorting, filling member’s boxes with food, leading the meeting after, collecting membership fees, running childcare, and spearheading initial setup and final cleanup (among other tasks).

After working together the Network’s members are required to have a meeting to discuss a topic of their choice. It could be a bible study, a tutorial on changing their oil, general nutrition, sharing a recipe, or hammering out the community’s guidelines for membership (for example, how late can you arrive to staff the distribution process before you give up your right to a food box?). This meeting is an intentional time of coming together to bond as a community, to share resources, and to learn…

This article was originally published on the Bright Ideas Indiana blog and can be read in full here.