BYRAM – The Waterloo United Methodist Church in Byram hosted their first “Feed Fest” on February 11. The church organized a family friendly party with the goal of raising $1,000 and collecting 500 pounds of food to support local food pantries, including Project Self Sufficiency, Byram Food Pantry, and NORWESCAP.
The church’s pastor, Tim Nicinski, explained that food pantries typically get ample donations around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but supplies tend to run low during the late winter. The church is a regular supporter of the Byram Food Pantry, and has been taking a monthly collection for many years for the purpose of purchasing ShopRite cards that are provided to the town clerk’s office for local residents in need of assistance. A member of the Byram Town Council attended Feed Fest, in support of the church’s effort to continue to help their community.
JAM caterers of Waterloo Village allowed the church to host the party in their spacious hall. Feed Fest featured DJ Jonny Steelz, offering his music services which had guests dancing. God’s Funny Bones, a local clown group, created balloon animals, face painting, and made “stamp out hunger” themed crafts with children. Two party princesses from a local business stopped in and made themselves available for photos. The event included a STEM education and 3D printing demonstration and a lunch provided by the church was offered for donations.
“It was a wonderful day of sharing and caring,” said Lorna Wooldridge, a friend of the church who offered valentine crafts for teens and adults. “Well done, Waterloo UMC! The small church with the huge heart.”
The church invited the community to collect non-perishable food and donations of grocery gift cards as both groups and individuals. Lee Burbank, a regular church attendee, took the lead on soliciting local vendors for prizes that were awarded for the largest donations. They included gift certificates for local restaurants, businesses, yoga, and laser tag. Local boy scouts were the largest group donor collecting over 100 pounds of food. As party guests arrived, they were directed to the scale where their donations were weighed and logged, so prizes could be awarded. Helen Cole, a senior church member rang a large bell to celebrate each donation. Guests received a Feed Fest reusable grocery bag, donated by Cloud-com, a local telecom & IT business. 150 bags were given out for food shopping use for next year’s event.
Church members Ellen and Rick Scherr were the primary organizers of the event, but their enthusiasm easily recruited the assistance and support of others making Feed Fest a success through teamwork. The event garnered the support of numerous local businesses and brought the community together with the mutual goal of helping their hungry neighbors. There was fun and food, but the purpose was clear. And while the $847 dollars collected was just short of the $1,000 aim, the 500 pound objective was surpassed by the collection of 886 pounds of non-perishable food that was used to restock local food pantries.