'Hey! That's my church!'
Volunteers Amy Johnson, left, and
Christa Fisher, right, at the ELCA
World Hunger booth at the Dane
County Farmers Market in
By Megan Nuehring
“It’s really nice to know my church is doing this,” and “Hey! That’s my church” are some of the statements volunteers hear at the ELCA World Hunger booth at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wis.
The booth was started by the ELCA South-Central Wisconsin Synod as a creative way to reach out to the community and teach people about the ministries of the ELCA.
"People come to the farmers market from all over the country," says Vicki Hanrahan, who volunteers at the booth. She says it's a place people take their families when they visit Madison, so it was a great place to intersect with people who may not have heard of the church.
“We are telling folks to feed the hungry and to fight poverty,” says Sara Yotter, who also volunteers. “When people get excited about ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA, then they can participate in local congregations.”
Last summer the volunteers handed out about 500 bags a weekend. The bags are reusable and contain information about ELCA World Hunger and local congregations.
Individuals of all ages and occupations visit the booth and volunteers have conversations with nearly 700 people. There was a dentist who provided free dental services, college students who began sustainability initiatives and professors who were teaching about the spirituality of food and farming. However, the most intriguing visitors to the booth are the children.
“My longest conversations were the ones I had with children. Their excitement for this project was evident when one child returned to the booth within just a few weeks, eager to tell me that her God’s Global Barnyard Bank was full,” says Christa Fisher, who worked at the farmers market as an intern.
ELCA World Hunger provides God’s Global Barnyard Banks along with coloring pages and stickers. The children are able to speak with volunteers about hunger in the world and how a small donation of $10 can change someone’s life.
In addition, “Lots of folks are excited to hear about the countries the ELCA works in,” Sara says. “People at the farmers market care about fresh, healthy food, and they care about world hunger.”
Megan Nuehring is a student at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, majoring in public relations and religion with a minor in leadership.