Cross Lutheran is a church in Milwaukee’s central city, and its Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry (BOHEM) offers a meal program and food pantry, serving Milwaukee residents who experience poverty and hunger. Funders were interested in BOHEM’s measurable outcomes and the program’s impact. Program staff and volunteers worked to co-create an interview tool that could be administered by trained volunteers from other congregations who serve food at the meal program and pantry. “Guests” of the pantry participated in the interviews and talked about changes in their lives because of their involvement in BOHEM programming and services. As a result of the survey, BOHEM found ways to improve their communication about available services, volunteers from other congregations began to think more critically about what partnership and collaboration mean, and guests noted the importance of the resources being more than a source for food, but also an opportunity to give back or pay it forward. For all involved, it provided the opportunity to have a deeper conversation about racism, poverty and privilege.
A summary of this work was recently presented at the Hunger Summit, hosted by Feeding Wisconsin, in May 2016 in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. If you’d like more information or a copy of the presentation, please contact Salma Abadin.