Brown Bags From Heaven

Hungriest summer on record. Those words hit Holy Trinity’s Hospitality Coordinator, Donna Galvin, at her core, and she felt called to do something about it. “My passion is feeding people!” she states confidently. With the help of a grant from Holy Trinity’s Endowment Fund, Donna is on a mission to feed as many kids as possible this summer. 
Feeding the Hungry
Donna Galvin has been the Hospitality Coordinator at Holy Trinity since 2016, and feeding people is her specialty. New members are introduced to Donna’s deliciousness during their New Member Orientation, Donna and her Hospitality Team regularly provide home cooked meals before our Wednesday Evening worship services, and Donna even created a special recipe for homemade communion bread during the pandemic for our First Communicants – a tradition that continues today! However, her partnership with New Prague’s food shelf, The Peace Center, started in 2018 during Vacation Bible School. Donna compiled meals in brown lunch bags for kids who were home alone during the summer break. “It was a one time thing, but I always wanted to do it again on a larger scale”, Donna reports. 
Fast forward through the busyness of life, throw in a global pandemic, and the voice in Donna’s head to do something grew louder.
Hungriest Summer on Record
This spring, Donna participated in a webinar from Second Harvest Heartland called, “Summer Food Service Program 101 and How to be a Summer Meals Champion”. It was just the kick start Donna needed. “That was the first time I heard the phrase ‘Hungriest Summer on Record’ and I knew I had to do something,” Donna replies. The lingering impact of the pandemic, cost of food rising 16%, and schools eliminating their summer food program contribute to the “hungriest summer on record” claim. She quickly filled out the Holy Trinity Endowment Grant Request Form to request funds to make her dream a reality. 
Endowment Committee member Dan Popple stated, “Endowment was impressed with the passion exhibited by Donna to identify and fill a need in the local community in an area where the Holy Trinity Hospitality Team could apply their resources and skills to help. The effort to connect with the New Prague Peace Center to define this specific gap leading into the summer months generated interest from our group to assist.  We look forward to their efforts leading to a positive impact.”
Donna  was awarded a $1000 grant, and she didn’t waste any time assembling her team to get to work.
Manna Bags
What is manna? Manna is the food that dropped from heaven that prevented Moses and the Israelites from starving in the desert (Exodus 16:14–36). Donna creatively named these brown paper bags filled with easy to prepare,  shelf-stable breakfast and lunch items, “Manna Bags”.  Donna’s Hospitality Team shopped for items for their Manna Bags at Sam’s Club to stretch their Endowment grant funds. “Our goal is to make deliveries to the Peace Center every 2-3 weeks throughout the summer,” Donna reports. After recovering from a long day of shopping, Donna heard a familiar voice speaking on the TV news. It was Second Harvest Heartland’s CEO, Allison O’Toole, who directed the webinar Donna attended earlier in the spring, and again, Donna heard the words “hungriest summer on record”. 
“Inflation, sky-high consumer prices, gas prices, people’s rent payments are going up at a time when their wages aren’t following necessarily — especially for those lower-wage workers — [and] supply chain issues are putting pressure on all ends of the system,” O’Toole added about the reasons behind the expected demand.  
Less than a  week after watching the news story, Donna and her team gathered their items, and turned the Holy Trinity kitchen into a massive assembly line. Volunteers Trudy Wegman, Patsy Schuster, and Judy Schuster (Patsy’s sister-in-law) assisted Donna to pack the Manna Bags to the top. Each Manna Bag held a packet of instant oatmeal, a fruit granola bar, a juice box, a piece of fresh fruit, Easy Mac or Ramen Noodles, Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks and a small bag of cookies. 
80 Manna Bags were delivered to the Peace Center on Wednesday, June 15. As with all donations, the Peace Center weighed them, and the bags contained 106 lbs. of food. The Peace Center volunteers quickly arranged the Manna Bags at the front entrance and estimated they would be gone by the end of the week.  
More Manna
If you’d like to contribute to the next batch of Manna Bags, Donna suggests the following items: applesauce cups, 100% juice boxes, breakfast bars, and pop-top canned Spaghetti O’s (with or without meatballs). Donations can be dropped off with Donna on Sunday mornings after worship in the kitchen, or with Jamie in the church office during business hours. Keep your ears open in worship as Donna may schedule her next Manna Bag packing session after Sunday morning worship and seek more volunteers.
Written by Karen Taylor, Web Manager
June 23, 2022

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