Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 25 families either go hungry or fill up on food that is cheap and unhealthy. A report from Feeding America, an advocacy group headquartered in Chicago, found that 76 percent of counties in the United States strug- gling with food insecurity are rural counties. The Rev. Kate Morrison serves in one such county in the Midwest. Morrison is the associate pastor for youth and young adult min- istries at First Wyoming United Presbyterian Church in Torrington, Wyoming — a town with a little over 6,500 people. The 80-member con- gregation is yoked with Community Presbyterian Church in Lingle, Wyoming, population 800. Morrison, who has been in Wyoming for two years, never imagined being in a place where farming and ranching — and don't forget the sugar beet processing the Methodists are serving chicken and biscuits? There's a woman there who is famous for her apple dump- lings. You will be well-fed, Pastor. The pastor musters a smile and silently gives God a piece of her mind. God, this is not what I expected when I said "yes" to rural ministry. Repainting the rural picture Rural living has been romanticized for far too long with images of freshly baked pies cooling on windowsills and families pulling up to food-laden dinner tables, Norman Rockwell- style. But the reality is that those living in rural America are not neces- sarily well-fed. Although rural communities are the very places that grow produce and raise animals for meat and dairy products, healthy food is a scarcity in many such communities, and many F resh out of seminary, a pastor listens intently as the chair of the nominating committee drives around the countryside, narrating the history of a rural community that has seen better days. As she listens, she takes note of the sagging porches with faded and torn upholstered furniture. They pass sheep grazing behind a dilapidated barn, and the pastor silently reminds God that this was not what she had in mind when she said "yes" to tending the flock. She wonders when the church interviewing her had last seen a fresh coat of paint, and if there were funds to fix the roof that was missing a slate or two. And what was that abandoned building on the edge of town? The one with weeds over- taking the asphalt parking lot. That was our grocery store. It's been gone for a while. You're OK with driving a bit to get groceries, right, Pastor? Before she can answer, the com- mittee chair lists the grocery stores by how many miles away they are, only pausing to point out where the local food pantry is housed — and look, the Methodist church just put a sign out for its chicken and biscuit dinner. Who needs a grocery store when Rural Realities Hunger in the heartland Churches address food deserts and food insecurity BY DONNA FRISCHKNECHT JACKSON Presbyterians Today continues its three-part series, "Rural Realities," exploring the challenges and blessings for today's rural churches. Here, PT uncovers the growing problem of food deserts and food insecurity in small-town U.S.A. PART TWO IN A THREE-PART SERIES UNDERSTANDING THE TERMS Food deserts: Food deserts are defined as parts of the country where fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful whole foods are not easily accessed. Food insecurity: Food insecurity is "a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food." Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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