April 22, 2018

Fresh Produce Giveaway Lays Foundation for “Friendship Evangelism”

Mylon Medley, North American Division News

Thousands of pounds of spinach, kale, mango slices, and bananas were distributed at the North American Division (NAD) headquarters to residents in need on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

Responding to advertisements placed on Facebook, shared with students in local public schools, and posted in a nearby food bank, approximately 125 people filled reusable grocery bags provided by Adventist Community Services (ACS) with fresh greens.

“We have a high school group that donates pantry canned goods, but we don’t get the fresh vegetables. So, this is an excellent opportunity,” said Edwinda Qualls, a resident of Parkview Senior Complex.

The giveaway was organized by the NAD Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, which arranged for 25,000 pounds of food to be donated from grocery stores. Representatives of ACS and NAD administration were also among the dozens of volunteers who assisted during the outreach.

“We made a promise that the building would be used for mission to reach the community,” said NAD president Dan Jackson. “But this is a surprise. We had no clue we could get a hold of [this much] food that we could give to the community.”

Unexpected Outcome

The team was left with one-third of the food by the time the distribution ended. This was in stark contrast to the previous food giveaway last November when the available 17,000 pounds of food ran out before the event ended due to the large turnout.

However, this year’s predicament created another opportunity. Organizers of the giveaway donated food to a local food bank, and the county’s Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. Volunteers were also encouraged to take some of the leftover food to share with their neighbors.

“Volunteers responded positively; it really turned into friendship evangelism,” said Melissa Reid, NAD Public Affairs and Religious Liberty associate director. “God showed us that He doesn’t always work in the same way, He just wants us to be consistent when it comes to our willingness to supply the needs of others.”

Health Support System

The NAD also partnered with Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) to allow visitors access to its Journey to Better Health program, which offers comprehensive health education through faith-based organizations.

“It’s about empowering self-management,” said HCGH population health coordinator Tara Butler.

One of the goals of Journey to Better Health is to help keep those prone to chronic diseases out of the hospital. According to Butler, it’s easy for patients to feel overwhelmed when it comes to tending to their health. Journey to Better Health addresses this need by offering individualized guidance.

“We all need the support of others; this provides a good support system and promotes awareness,” said Janet Farquharson, who participated in the giveaway and health screening. “Everyone was nice and pleasant. They gave 100 percent and even more.”