For years, the congregation at Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls has been involved with efforts to meet basic needs and provide food in the community. However, recently the congregation has wondered what more they can do to address the root causes of hunger in Burnet County.
To get started, members of the Trinity congregation attended workshops, conferences and trainings such as the Texas Hunger Initiative’s annual “Together at the Table: Hunger and Poverty Summit.” As they began to learn more about what others were doing to address food insecurity, they became inspired by the idea of creating a hunger-free Burnet County. They began to explore creating a coalition in the community that could work together to better coordinate services and address root causes of hunger.
Members of the Trinity congregation first attended an EHF meeting introducing the Foundation’s work to churches. Then, they followed up with EHF’s Congregational Enagagement Team to request help in moving their hunger-free idea forward.
Last December, EHF’s Congregational Engagement Officer, Lisa Madry, led a training with Trinity members focused on community engagement and relationship building outside of the church. Through this training, participants learned how to conduct one-on-one meetings, how to identify leadership in the congregation and community, and how to take inventory of what the congregation can offer to address food insecurity issues in Marble Falls.
“EHF’s assistance cannot be overstated,” said Madeline Manigold, Chair of Trinity’s Ministry and Outreach Commission. “The focus of their training was on listening and building relationships [with our partners].”
EHF’s training not only concentrated on the importance of community relationships, but also on understanding interests and motivations throughout the community. The session focused on knowing who in the community should get involved and helped guide the congregation through the process of how to determine goals and intended results.
In addition to EHF’s training, representatives from the Texas Hunger Initiative also provided resources specific to forming a hunger-free community coalition and helped connect the congregation to other communities involved with similar efforts.
As a result of many community conversations, training and resources, Trinity hosted a Hunger Summit this summer. The summit included church leaders, local food pantries, non-profit organizations and various government officials.
The next step for Trinity and the new hunger-free coalition is to finalize its research on hunger in Burnet County. The coalition will also work to finalize its mission and vision statements so it can determine the best strategy to truly address hunger needs in the county.
“Trinity is a great example of how a congregation can take an existing outreach ministry and transform it into something that includes the voice of the community,” said Elena Marks, EHF’s President and CEO. “Community voice is what’s often needed to address the root causes of any particular health issue.”