We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Village Harvest – Feb., 2024 – a positive month

We served 110 at the Feb. 21, 2024 Village Harvest. After a slowdown to 91 last month, we were back at the plateau of 110-112 from achieved fron Nov and Dec. last year. This was 10 people above the earlier period Aug to Oct. which served between 90 and 100.

Totals for the first two months show some consistency from 2021-2024. The total is between 200 and 205 except for 2023 which was substantially lower at 137. We are not sure what happened but weather was not an issue.

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Souper Bowl Sunday – Food and card donations

1. Prayer at Announcements

We collected food cans from parishioners today plus cards addressed to the recipients to provide additional connections to our Village Harvest food distribution, happening Wed Feb. 21, 3pm-5pm.

2. Results. We collected 41 cans of food and 33 cards donated plus $75 in monetary donations.

The goal was thirty cans and thirty cards for those who come to the distribution so we exceeded our goal. It was also above last year with 25 cans Thanks to all!

It was not just the donation that was important but also the symbolic bringing of the donation to the altar which we did today. This practice goes back to at least Exodus in the Old Testament when Moses encourages bringing donations forward to the Lord.

SouperBowl! Feb 11, 2024

Bring a can, or cans, of soup to church on the 11th, along with a Valentine’s Day card wishing the recipient love from St Peter’s to be included in a Village Harvest bag on Wed, February 21st. The goal—thirty cans of soup and thirty cards for those who come to the distribution. Monetary donations to the Village Harvest are always welcome. Write a check to St Peter’s with Village Harvest in the memo line if you wish to donate.

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The Souper Bowl supports the Village Harvest

The Role of Food Insecurity

Year % Food Insecurity
2017 10.2
2018 9.9
2019 9.4
2020 7.7
2021 8.1

The Souper Bowl helps to fund the Village Harvest which is not budgeted but depends on contributions. Harvest fund levels are affected by trends in food insecurity.

The trends of food insecurity have improved over the last few year as a percentage of the population except for the last year (2021) in the table.

That’s the good news we can all appreciate. However, all groups in the community have not shared in this improvement.

Food insecurity is an economic condition driven by several factors, chief among these is a lack of money. Overall, the economy has been positive in these years accounting for downward trend percentage of food insecurity. There is an underlying second issue. Food insecurity is affected by underlying economic and social disadvantages reflecting racial differences.

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Village Harvest, Jan.17, 2024

It was a snow day Jan. 16 so we benefited by a full crew of help, including three teenagers to help prepare. We were well prepared for the harvest on Jan. 17.

Food available in pounds

For the first month of 2024, we had meat (chicken breasts) vegetables (carrots, rice, corn, cabbage,lettuce, soup) fruit (peaches), and Food Lion packages for distribution. 52% was grocery, 28% produce and 20% meat. A Year ago in Jan., 2023 76% was grocery and 24% meat, less variety then.

Despite the variety, supplies were tight. The buyers noted that stock was low at the Healthy Harvest Food Bank.

1,110 pounds were available for distribution in Jan, 2024. This was the lowest supply since June, 2023 which had 949 pounds. A year ago in Jan, 2023, 1,137 pounds were distributed, close to the current total.

Comparable numbers showed 1,081 pounds in Jan, 2022, 1147 in Jan, 2021 and only 1,020 for 2020. Clearly, the 2024 number was actually better than most years.

In the chart below, the red bars display foods available in the last 6 months of 2023 and 2024. Blue is a year earlier. Beginning in Oct, 2023, the number of pounds available per month slipped behind that of the month a year earlier.

Clients served by the Harvest.

Trends were more positive on the client side in January but have fluctuated over the last several years.

We served 91 in Jan. 2024, the lowest total since October with 99. A year ago in Jan, 2023 the number was only 60. This was an anomoly. In Jan 2022 there was almost double the clients at 115. Jan, 2021 was similar 116 but Jan, 2020 was only 81.

Monthly totals provide a recent trend in those fed by the harvest.

Looking at the last six months of clients fed at the harvest show an improving trend monthly in the current year compared to a year ago. Client totals were over 99 or better for the last 3 months of 2023 with an average of 107. A year earlier maximum was 90 for the last 3 months of 2022 with an average of 86.

Preparation

We have up to four teams that make the Harvest a reality though there is a blending between groups. One team goes to Montross to purchase food from the Healthy Harvest Food Bank. This happens on the Monday or Tuesday before Wed. distribution. We have a team that then unloads the food from the truck to our Parish House.

We have another team that will organize the items and fill the bags. The frozen items, such as chickens may get their own separate bags. A final team helps with the distribution on Wed.

Tues Jan 16 the day of preparation was a snow day and so we had the services of several teenagers to help:

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2023 Highlights at St. Peter’s

This is a topical summary. We have another page that is a chronological listing of 2023 events with table of contents with links to the events.

The highlights can be grouped as follows:

A. New ministry
God’s Garden
Chancellors Village
Advent Worskhop

B. New expressions in ministry
Stewardship tree
Lent -Stations of the Cross in the graveyard and more services

C. Expanded and revised ministries
Mission trip to Jamaica
Anniversary Village Harvest Food Ministry
Sacred Ground revised
ECM (Episcopal Church Men) end of year expanded donations and use of an art auction.
Community – Prayer service, Outside Christmas pageant, Work with community organizations
Key parishioner volunteering
ECW (Episcopal Church Women) projects

D. Music provided new delights
Easter, the summer and Christmas
Blue grass concert

E. Losses connected with two historic trees and two heating systems.

1. New ministry – God’s Garden

A new ministry debuted Sept 17, 2023. God’s Garden for 5 to 9 year olds began with 4 children and two experienced teachers, Elizabeth Heimbach, the originator of the class and Jan Saylor.

One of the first activities was to “God’s Garden” which explored what it meant to be a saint, today (Oct. 1, 2023) for St. Francis Day on Oct. 4. As an example they told the story of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio. Then, they made Pet blessings with treats to give out in church to make pets happy on St. Francis Day, Oct. 4.

2. Expanded ministry in Jamaica

Even before the mission began, we hosted Annette Steele, principal of Victoria Primary School who enjoyed a full day at St. Peter’s on Sun, Aug. 13. She addressed the church at announcements about our joint mission to help the students in her elementary school get ready for school in Sept, both in 2021 and 2023. She explained how much it meant to the students and her community.

After the service, she enjoyed St. Peter’s hospitality at a luncheon and met our parishioners and guests.

The group of 3 on the mission team distributed our donations in Jamaica on Aug. 26

We not only brought the usual school supplies but added 6 tablets. Separately, 7 used computers were donated to a school that had never had a computer.  

There were different ways of distributing the items.  There were contests for tablets and food baskets won by answering questions. Certificates given out based on merit overall and in areas like math. A number of students won $1,000 Jamaican dollars for math competency. Teachers were not forgotten – 2 footballs were given out to the coach!

3. Village Harvest ended its 9th year and began its 10th year in August, 2023 and ended the year serving the most people since 2019.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

Unfortunately, the same trend overall wasn’t present with food. Food increased from 2021 to 2022 (14,303 to 15,302 pounds) but dipped to 13,859 pounds in 2023. The first quarter was the problem. We had 2,913 pounds in that quarter compared over 4,000 for 2022 and 2021.

As a result, pounds provided per individual dropped from 14.56 in 2022 to 13.04. In 2021, it was in the same range at 14.32. Overall, pounds per individual are substantially higher since 2019 than in earlier periods.

The 2023 collection on Giving Tuesday, Nov 28 of $1,205 was the highest Giving Tuesday figure since 2019 and provides over 5 months of support for purchasing food for 2024

4. Sacred Ground revised their scholarship program

Representatives from Sacred Ground met with Jessica Thompson, Executive Director of the Germanna Educational Foundation, for lunch at Castiglias in Fredericksburg on Oct. 10, 2023.  The goal was to determine how we could move forward with a new focus on our scholarships for students.

Sacred Ground voted unanimously by email in early December to fund the recommendation forwarded by Jessica Thompson at Germanna for scholarships for students entering the trades. Each student is “in financial need and from underserved populations.” The $2,700 would be split equally to pay for their training.

Each student owes approximately $1,500 for the classes to complete the training. We will pay for the additional expense for each student through additional scholarship funds

They also toured Patawomeck Village in November. The goal of the visit was to understand their history and culture as well as our role

Earlier, the Sacred Ground group had the pleasure of meeting with Alanna Gray (beside Catherine), and her mother and grandmother (opposite Alanna) at Cuppa Cheer in February

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The Village Harvest rallies, Dec. 20 2023

We had 112 people to receive food, the largest monthly number in almost two years (since Jan. 2022 with 115). It was reported, there were more shoppers from Port Royal itself and fewer from King George. We also serve Esssex and Westmoreland counties.

We had 1,343 pounds which was just under the largest delivery of the year (April, 2023, 1,365 pounds). Included were 398 pounds of meat, including 35 chickens, one to a family for Christmas which is 33% of the harvest (see photo). The rest of the harvest is grocery 51% and produce 17%. There are a number of apple-related products from the fruit to apple sauce.

The photo shows the items unloaded from the truck – apples, tomatoes, and boxed items from Food Lion which includes tomato sauce, corn, spaghetti and macaroni. Separately we have frozen green beans.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

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Giving Tuesday 2023 results

W. T. Purkiser preacher, scholar, writer wrote a hundred years ago, “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” His point in life was to lead an active faith and to share our blessings, often more than we realize.

The 2023 collection on Giving Tuesday of $1,205 was the highest Giving Tuesday figure since 2019. This should help to pay for about 5 months of the Village Harvest in 2023. We serve about 100 people a month. Wonderful! Many thanks to those who contributed

Donate to Giving Tuesday, 2023 for the Village Harvest

How we are meeting the challenge?

 

1. Donating online. Click the “Donate button” to donate to Giving Tuesday in honor of the Village Harvest on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

2. You can also send a check by mail or donate on Sunday in the plate:

St. Peter’s Church P. O. Box 399 Port Royal, Virginia 22535

We thank you for your donation to support our Village Harvest Food Ministry, now beginning its 10th year in November, 2023.!

Importance of the Village Harvest Food Ministry, 2023

A sermon by the Rev. Evan Garner highlighted why Church food ministries are so important in our time:

“Because feeding them is our job. As followers of Jesus, it is our calling to feed these people, indeed to feed all hungry people. The kind of people who left their homes to walk out into the wilderness and hike up a mountain to see Jesus are the kind of people who were desperate to be fed. Some of them may not have needed physical nourishment, but most of them did. For most of them, their spiritual crisis was born out of an economic crisis. We know that because usually the kind of people who had enough on their own weren’t very interested in Jesus. The rich and the powerful ignored him or laughed at him or, sometimes, plotted against him.”

“It is our job as the leaders of the church, as the stewards of the resources entrusted to us by God and by our parish, to count costs and estimate resources. But it is never our job as the people of God to allow an attitude of scarcity to overcome a theology of abundance. “

The Village Harvest addresses the Food Insecurity issue in surrounding counties and is one our key ministries. The definition of Food insecure is “those households who not have access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.”

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