With gratitude for those who have donated to and participated in the ELCA’s COVID-19 Response Fund, ELCA World Hunger is happy to announce another round of Daily Bread Matching Grants this fall. Grant applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more below.
Hope Springs Up Through Daily Bread Matching Grants
Here in Chicago, the days are growing colder, the daylight hours are growing fewer and the impending arrival of a long winter looms large. As the season changes, we are confronted with the undeniable fact that the pandemic remains with us. Economic prospects are bleak, and hunger is on the rise. Many of us are grieving, lonely or afraid; we are isolated from one another in ways that would have felt inconceivable before this year. At the same time, we face such new challenges as managing virtual school, finding safe ways to vote, and adapting ministries to new models. The change is relentless and exhausting, like the political ads on our televisions and the news predicting a second wave of the virus.
On many days we may feel as if God has left us, God’s people, wandering in the wilderness. But God’s promises of renewal and hope for the future hold true: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness” (Isaiah 43:18-19). This is not just a promise for this pandemic time but a standing promise from God for all time. Especially in times such as these, when hope feels scarce, we need to create a space where we can look a little closer and remember the hope we are called to as Christians.
More specifically, this is a time not only to recall the hope we have in Christ intellectually but to “re-member” hope — to relearn that our Christian hope and God’s promise for renewal come to us through the fellow members of our communities. The hope we share as Christians is an embodied hope that shows us where God is already active in our communities and urges us to lend a hand.
Daily Bread Matching Grants — which launched in April, early in the pandemic — utilize the ELCA’s crowdfunding platform and create giving incentives, in the form of $500 matching grants, that have allowed 200 ELCA congregations with feeding ministries to reach out directly to their communities and raise much-needed funds to meet the increased demand for food. The grants enable ELCA congregations to embody hope by providing actual daily bread to their communities.
We are currently accepting applications for a second round of Daily Bread Matching Grants, to be awarded in November. If you would like to apply for a grant or donate to the program, visit ELCA.org/dailybread.
Success Stories From Congregations
The stories that have emerged from the spring round of Daily Bread Matching Grants truly reveal what it means to re-member hope. ELCA World Hunger staff have celebrated countless stories of communities and congregations mobilizing quickly and pivoting to meet the immediate needs of community members and continue our work toward a just world where all are fed — all while keeping their communities safe. Several of those stories are featured in our “Church Together – Apart” video series, which you can explore through the links below.
In Junction City, Ohio, New Lebanon Lutheran Church re-membered hope by creating an online community. Pastor Kristin Santiago explains, “For the first time in 204 years of congregational history, this congregation now has a website, access to online giving and newer social media, which helped us spread the word about the need for matching funds given to the Daily Bread Matching Grant.” Pastor Kristin notes that the pandemic hit her community hard: “Our southeastern, Appalachian Ohio community has lived with high amounts of poverty for a generation following the closure of coal mining and loss of manufacturing jobs. The onset of the pandemic has exacerbated that with more layoffs.”
With new access to online giving, along with traditional forms of giving, New Lebanon was able to raise funds for Shepherd’s Table, the church’s semimonthly feeding ministry. As a result, New Lebanon has been able to increase from 75 to 150 the meals it serves its neighbors every month. Pastor Kristin hopes that the connections made through this grant will continue to help Shepherd’s Table expand the number of meals it serves.
Hope Lutheran Church in Lynden, Wash, re-membered hope by expanding its “backpack buddies” program, which provides food for students and families who rely on free or discounted school lunches. The program’s founder, Tammy Yoder, explained that her community is home to many farmers and migrant farmworkers who were hit hard by the pandemic due to shifting food demands across the country. Tammy and her team used their Daily Bread Matching Grant to provide patrons with ingredients for two full family meals instead of smaller individual meals.
And in Huntington Station, N.Y, Gloria Dei Evangelical Lutheran Church re-membered hope with its food pantry, which has seen demand double in recent months and is the only ministry in the church building that has continued to operate throughout the pandemic. In fact, with the help of a Daily Bread Matching Grant, the congregation has even grown its ministry by working with food banks and other partners in its community. According to Pastor Joel, the congregation had never before used its Facebook page for fundraising. “Within a day or two, we’d already reached that $500 matching goal,” he said. “By the time we were done, we were up over $4,000.”
All told, through online fundraising the 200 congregations participating in the spring’s Daily Bread Matching Grants more than tripled ELCA World Hunger’s contribution toward domestic, community-based feeding ministries. These 200 congregations remind us that, even when days feel dark, hope is not a scarce commodity but an abundant blessing to be shared widely. God is doing a new thing through the members of this church. Do you not perceive it?