Food Justice, First Congregational, and Food for Lane County

Brenda Kame’enui – First Congregational Church UCC – Eugene

The Earth Stewardship Team at First Congregational Church-UCC Eugene helps the Justice & Witness Committee keep food justice issues and farm-to-table opportunities in the minds of church members.

FOOD for Lane County (FFLC) is Eugene’s local nonprofit food bank, dedicated to eliminating hunger by creating access to food in our community. For many years, First Congregational UCC in Eugene has provided volunteers for the Dining Room, which provides free, nutritious meals for low-income diners in a café setting (200-300/night, M-Th). The delicious food is prepared by a FFLC employee out of food provided by local donors (e.g., grocery stores, the U of O).  As First Congregational’s Rev. Melanie Oommen says, it is the heart and spirit in which the food is served and received that makes the experience unique. FFLC staff and volunteers warmly welcome diners and treat them with respect and dignity in a nondiscriminatory setting.

Food Rescue Express is another Food for Lane County program that uses a large group of FCC-UCC Eugene volunteers. This program recovers food from hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, and schools and repackages it into family-sized portions.  A large group of FCC-UCC members, including families, volunteers monthly to repack food for distribution.  It’s a fun and productive evening for volunteers.

FFLC sponsors a Grassroots Garden and Youth Farm, where local youth grow and sell produce to the public.  The farming and business development make this project an excellent way for young people, many of whom have been in trouble or have faced disadvantage, to meet the public.

Each year on Pentecost Sunday, the Justice & Witness Committee at FCC-UCC Eugene recommends an organization to receive the special offering.  The goal is to help seed a program that would benefit from a jump start.  This year’s choice was another FFLC program, a cooperative endeavor with food businesses in Eugene.  FFLC recently launched a drive to put healthy, protein- and fiber-rich locally produced chili on the tables of hungry people in Lane County.  The shelf-stable meal-sized packages of lentils, barley, and spices are ready for patrons, and the Oregon State University extension service has been providing tastes and recipe cards to food bank recipients.

This exciting program began with FFLC’s purchase of 6,000 pounds of lentils and barley from a Willamette Valley farmer.  GloryBee Foods then chipped in chili seasoning.  An Idaho farmer read about FFLC’s efforts and donated 10,000 pounds of lentils left over from last year’s crop.  The project attracted the interest of the Oregon Food Bank Network, and OFB has now contracted to buy hundreds of thousands of pounds of lentils and barley from Willamette Valley farmers.

There is no end to both the need and opportunity to feed our hungry neighbors.  It’s fitting to dedicate a “row in the garden” and a place in our hearts for feeding the hungry delicious, healthy food with a dose of dignity.

Occupying Our Faith

by Will Fuller, Kairos-Milwaukie UCC

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland have received a lot of attention, but their meaning for the faith community has not. As a denomination committed to social justice, the United Church of Christ is intimately involved in the issues and precedent-setting nature of Occupy, and so we need to reflect on our role, responsibilities and relationship with this evolving social phenomenon.

Rev’s Chuck Currie and Kate Lore at Occupy Portland


Presented by Witness For Peace Northwest

Eleazar Garcia

  •  Monday, Nov. 7, Portland, OR 7 pm: St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 6835 SW 46th Ave.
  •  Tuesday, Nov. 8, Corvallis, OR 4 pm: Westminster House, Oregon State University, 101 NW 23rd.
  •  Tuesday, Nov. 8, Eugene, OR 7 pm: Friends Meeting House, 2274 Onyx St.
  •  Wednesday, Nov. 9, Portland, OR 7 pm: Lewis & Clark College, 0615 Southwest Palatine Hill Road, Public welcome

Eleazar Garcia will address the devastating impacts the North American Free Trade Agreement has had on the Mexican countryside, including an abandonment of traditional sustainable ways of life of small farmers, as well as a boom in rural Mexican migration to the United States. Speaking from his experience of seeing this devastation first hand, Eleazar will not only share the negative impacts of this free trade model, but will also present a hopeful alternative that is being carried out to preserve the land, and to stem the tide of migrants leaving rural Mexico for the U.S.

Eleazar Garcia is an indigenous campesino from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.
He is an expert in sustainable agriculture and environmental restoration, and is a founding member of the Center for Integral Development of the Campesino of the Mixteca Alta (CEDICAM). Throughout his over ten years of work with CEDICAM, he has served as president and has worked as a promoter and teacher of holistic resource management, organic agriculture, seed preservation, soil conservation and reforestation.

For more information contact: Aleita Hass-Holcombe (541) 740-3235