Co-op a “Fresh Stop” for Downtown Church

July 08, 2009

In the Gospel of Mark, when the people had gathered to hear what Jesus had to say, and it had grown late in the day, the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send the people away. The disciples wanted the people to go off on their own and somehow find some food to eat. But, Jesus said to the disciples, “You give them something to eat.” When they followed Jesus’ direction the Scripture says “all ate and were satisfied.” In that spirit Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church (Louisville District) has become one of the first congregations in the United States to enter into a food co-op ministry, called “Fresh Stop,” in order to bring fresh produce to their neighborhood.

Old Louisville, where the building for Fourth Avenue UMC is located, is considered a “food desert.” That means it is hard for the people of Old Louisville to get healthy, fresh, affordable produce. So, with the help of the Community Farm Alliance, the church has developed a partnership with a farming family from Meade County to better serve the church’s urban population.

The farmers, Ralph and Kathy Packard, who are associated with the Brandenburg United Methodist Church, provide the land and most of the work to produce the food. Members of Fourth Avenue’s congregation, then, go to the farm to help plant, tend, and harvest. When the weekly harvest is dropped off in Old Louisville, Fourth Avenue sets up the co-op, provides live music, sets up cooking demonstrations, and greets the people who come to pick up their shares of fresh produce. The cost of the co-op shares is kept low by the participation of the church in the work and the faith connection of everyone involved. To get involved, you can phone the church at 502-585-2176.

Jean Hawxhurst, Pastor, Fourth Avenue UMC