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Though it’s one of our newest ministries, there’s so much to say about our Food Justice Ministry!
In June 2018, Cross’ Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry (BOHEM) began a new style of operation in the food pantry. Guests who come to the pantry now walk along a food aisle and select the foods they would like. This experience empowers guests to select their own food and offers the dignity of choice. The pantry is open the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Wednesday of each month and is supported by a vast community that includes Cross, our partner churches, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Just One More Ministry, and others. Thank you all for helping this ministry!
The Cross Lutheran Community Garden strives to provide a natural community gathering space where neighbors can learn about growing food. It is located immediately north of the church.
Cross will soon be utilizing the services of Compost Crusaders. They are a Milwaukee-wide organization that not only helps divert organic matter from landfills, but also provides the means necessary for Milwaukeeans to return nutrients to the soil in their gardens, plant beds, and other areas. Composting cycles nutrients rather than shipping them off to a landfill. This service will come in handy with food scraps produced at the Wednesday BOHEM hot meal that is served almost every week. This effort is just one of Cross’ various steps towards our sustainable future. (Check out the solar panels on the church roof, too.)
Composting also happens right here on the church’s property in the Cross Lutheran Community Garden. The 3-bin compost system in the garden (pictured above) allows our church to make use of our leafy yard waste while also providing gardeners with a place to toss their pesky weeds. The best part is that this compost gets mixed into the garden beds to ensure good soil quality for healthy plants and a great harvest!
Because learning and gaining skills about what to cook and how to cook it are just as necessary as having access to healthy foods, nutrition education (in the form of cooking classes) is an important piece of the Food Justice Ministry at Cross.
2018 Cooking Classes:
2019 Cooking Classes
While the garden beds are full of growing plants, there is also plenty of growth to be had for the garden itself! Some upcoming projects include the addition of a birdhouse to the tall Ash stump that sits west of the grape vines, the installation of gutters on the garden shed that will direct rain water into our two rain barrels (another effort towards environmental sustainability!), construction of a grape vine trellis, a beautification of the garden border and seating area, a reworking of the entrance to the garden, and more. We are also considering a lean-to to keep gardeners dry during unexpected rain. Many of our projects require the help of volunteers, so if you are interested or have any other ideas on how to make our garden more a part of this community, please share!
A 5 person team from Cross is participating in “Water School” in partnership with the Milwaukee Water Commons during the summer of 2018. This program involves teaching the team about water and water conservation. This is while also providing some funds and the creative space needed to produce a water-related project at the church. Our team will be traveling to some of our partner congregations to discuss water as it relates to environmental stewardship, spirituality, and advocacy. Stay tuned to learn more about this project…
Outside the church walls, the Food Justice Ministry is staying connected to the broader Milwaukee scene. We are Friends of the Milwaukee Food Council, a group that meets every other month to discuss current food topics and help make change on a systemic level. Cross is also involved in the America Cancer Society-sponsored HEALE project. That project is responsible for the formation of the 53205 F.O.C.U.S. group, the “Wellness Awareness in 53205” newsletter, and other healthy food, food access, and exercise-related initiatives. Our friends in the zip code next door convene a monthly Near West Side Grocery Store Work Group (to hopefully help bring a grocer back into the Near West Side neighborhood) and we participate there as well. However, the Food Justice Ministry is always looking for new connections and ways to advocate for Food Justice in our city, so please be in touch with any groups or events that work towards this movement!
Along with these city-wide efforts, there is also outreach in our faith community. Through BOHEM and other non-food related programs, Cross interacts with our various suburban partner congregations, deepening existing relationships and developing new ones. It is these connections that help unite us on the commonality of faith so that together we might build bridges between the city and the suburbs across race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, sexual orientation, and beyond.