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Dear Mrs. Sanderson,

I got so excited when Fr. Zagloba told me that you would like to start a food pantry here at the Parish. I think this is a wonderful idea. You know as well as I do how many people in our neighborhood are struggling to make ends meet. I’m more than happy to help you get this ministry off the ground.

By the way, I do want to apologize for the comment that I made during my first Pastoral Council Meeting about how we would have to sell 185,000 brownies to put a new roof on the Church. Please forgive me if I offended you. I should have shared my concerns with you in private, but it’s kind of a hot button topic for me.

Let’s start with a budget

Fr. Zagloba told me that he fully supports the idea of a food pantry, but that the parish budget can’t cover the cost of it. He will commit to finding the appropriate space in one of the parish buildings and giving you time to talk about it after Mass.

So we have to come up with a way to get the food you’ll be giving out. I’ll put you in touch with the person at the Food Bank who brings on new food pantries. She’s a gem… you’ll just love her. The Food Bank will help you maximize the amount of food you’ll be able to distribute with the money we raise.

Since you’ll be rounding up volunteers to do all of the work, food will be the major cost for the ministry. You can come up with a ballpark budget by plugging numbers into this equation:

  • (the number of families you want to serve each time you’re open) X (the number of times you’ll be open per month) X (the amount of food you want to provide each family) X (Estimated cost per pound of food) = (Monthly food budget for the pantry)

So if you think you want to serve 40 families twice a month, providing 45 lbs. of food (roughly what a family of 4 eats in 3 days), at a cost of $1 per pound of food, you’ll need about $3,600 per month. The big reason to use the Food Bank is that the average cost for food is much lower, between $0.15 and $0.25 per pound, which brings the cost to $540-$900 per month. These are manageable numbers for fundraising.

A better way than brownies

I’m going to suggest a fundraising technique I’ve heard of called “Ministry Support Fundraising”. This style of fundraising is typically used by missionaries who are going off into the field for an extended period of time. They will not be coming back into town except infrequently, so they need people to commit to being long-term supporters.

So with Fr. Zagloba’s permission, we’re going to start a club in the Parish called “The Pantry Partners”. You become a Pantry Partner in one of two ways, by volunteering your time, or becoming a monthly donor to the Food Pantry. As we prepare to start the pantry, we’ll ask people in the Parish to become Pantry Partners until we have monthly commitments to cover our target budget.

Once we have the details nailed down – where the food pantry will be located, the budget, partnership with the Food Bank – we’ll do our ‘partner drive’. One weekend, you’ll get up after all of the masses and tell the story of the new food pantry, explain how much it is going to cost every month, and tell people about how to become a “Pantry Partner”. You’ll focus on the fact that it is a long-term commitment, and how we’re called by the Gospel to serve the hungry.

A sample script might be something like this:

“Hello everyone, I’m Norma Sanderson, and I’ve been a parishioner at St. Catherine’s for 45 years. Thanks to Fr. Zagloba’s encouragement and support, I’m now leading the charge to start a food pantry to serve the hungry in our area. The food pantry will be open twice a month to start and we’ll need financial and volunteer support. So we’re starting the “Pantry Partners” ministry for people who make a commitment to serve or donate every month. We hope to feed 80 families a month once we get started, and thanks to our local food bank, we’ll be able to do that for around $1,000 per month. Please come see me after mass if you’re interested, or call me. My phone number is listed in the bulletin.”

Ask for what you need

This will work better than you expect, especially if we commit to prayer before hand. God wants us to serve the poor, and so He will certainly move people to give according to their ability.

Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive”. You plan on doing a noble thing. People will respond. Not everybody, but everybody you need to get this mission up and off the ground. After your first announcement, we can decide if we need to try another approach.

Blessings,

Nathan – The Almoner


Need some new ideas on how to fundraise? Check out The Fundraiser’s Playbook and find the fundraising strategy that will work best for you!