Written by Juanita Fox
At Garden Spot Village, the core value of service flows through every aspect of life, including dining. Recently, Garden Spot Village residents began to donate unused meal dollars to fund a free community meal in New Holland through a Swipe Out Hunger campaign.
When Colleen Musselman, director of life enrichment, realized a national Swipe Out Hunger organization, geared towards college and university students existed, she contacted them. Soon after, Garden Spot Village officially became the first retirement community to affiliate with Swipe Out Hunger.
Rachel Sumekh, CEO of the nonprofit Swipe out Hunger, said the organization was founded in 2010 when she and her friends were students at UCLA. They saw a disparity between students having too much food and members of the community who did not have enough. They began to ask, “How do we support our community?” and “How can we use the system to make a change?” Since that time, Swipe Out Hunger has grown to 23 chapters on college and community campuses and the chapters have donated 1.2 million meals to community members and college students through meal vouchers and college food banks. They are excited to include Garden Spot Village in their efforts and see opportunity for other retirement communities to participate as well.
Since the program’s launch in early 2017 residents and staff responded generously, donating meal dollars and signing up to volunteer. To date nine staff and 21 residents signed up to volunteer and donations have already provided enough funds for several months.
In addition, Fred and Eileen Eck and Don and Lois Aldrich accepted leadership of the project. The couples researched other community meals in New Holland to determine best practices and plan for the first meal. They also worked closely with dining services staff, recruited volunteers and added the energy and momentum the project needed to bring the first meal to fruition.
Last evening volunteers served the first meal at CrossNet Youth Ministries at 110 W Franklin Street in New Holland. The meal was open to anyone in the community who needed a hot meal or companionship. Seventy-five members of the New Holland community and volunteers enjoyed a delicious lasagna dinner.
Dining services staff prepared the food and volunteers from Garden Spot Village set-up tables, chairs and serving stations, as well as served and interacted with members of the community.
Musselman says, “There was good food and great conversation. Many [who attended] thanked Garden Spot Village for the opportunity to get together around the table. Many were single and appreciated the opportunity to socialize.”
As Don Aldrich looks to the future, he desires that “God is glorified through our work. This is another opportunity for Garden Spot Village to reach out into the community and for the community to see who we truly are.”
Garden Spot Village will sponsor a community meal on the fourth Monday of each month at CrossNet Youth Ministries. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Volunteer Services at 355-6283.