A LETTER FROM MARTHA’S / NOVEMBER 21, 2021
Dear Friends, Volunteers, Community Partners and Donors,
We are Eli Wenger and Patrick Walsh, Directors of Martha’s Choice Marketplace & Community Farm.
Martha’s Choice Marketplace is the largest food pantry in Montgomery County, and our mission is to build community through access to healthy food. In 2022, we will distribute nearly 2 million lbs. of food to over 3,200 unique families, and over 11,000 individuals. This wouldn’t be possible without your generous support, Thank you!
At Martha’s, we believe everyone deserves healthy food. We believe that there are many ways to be hungry, and just as many ways to be nourished. We believe that in working alongside, and getting to know, trust and understand people from a diversity of backgrounds and cultures, we are all made a little better. Our hearts are opened up a little wider, we see our universal commonality, and we understand the struggles of our neighbors just a bit more clearly. Whether it is meaning, fellowship, love, belonging, or simply dinner that we are most in need of; a strong and healthy community helps to provide these things to one another.
But community is more than just a buzz word, it’s about truly investing in people. It’s about forming authentic relationships, and creating genuine fellowship in an environment that is friendly, welcoming, and respectful; where the voices of the community we serve guide our programs, and where relationships are organic and sincere, positive and impactful. Because we are the community we serve.
This is the mission of the gospel, this is Martha’s mission, and we invite you to share this journey with us because we need you now more than ever.
In the seven years that we have operated Martha’s Choice Marketplace together, we have never seen this current level of sustained community need, even during the height of the pandemic. February through August is typically our slow season, and we were seeing 1300 families a month on average, during a time when we typically see 600-700 families. The intensity of need is continuing to rise, people are stressed, everything costs more, and nearly all the programs that surfaced in 2020 to help support food insecure households and food resource programs have vanished, as Covid concerns receded.
Gathering the resources and food necessary to distribute to our neighbors with respect, dignity and love, requires an extensive network of producers, suppliers, and logistics. The available resources from government, businesses, faith communities, food banks and individuals will not support the need that currently exists. And what we see surfacing now is a potential food crisis. There is an increasingly significant gap between the amount of resources available to the system, and the amount of households experiencing the need for food.
To meet this challenge will require a significant and sustained shift in the engagement of the public with their local food pantries, in the way state and federal programs are funded, and in the level of funding coming from the philanthropic community. There is a massive question hanging above the near future for people aren’t sure where dinner is going to come from this week: Who is going to observe this crisis level gap in resources with community need, and feel responsible to respond?
If the answer isn’t everyone, we are all in for a very concerning winter.
This is where we need you!
We invite you to call or visit your local food pantry, make a monetary donation, volunteer, begin a neighborhood food drive, or make a call to your local representative. There are many ways that we can all make a difference in our community, and now is the time. Please help support this vital work in any way you can, and be the change you want to see in the world.
We are all in this together.
Eli Wenger & Patrick Walsh
Directors / Martha’s Choice Marketplace & Community Farm at Catholic Social Services of Montgomery County
MARTHA’S CORE VALUES
BUILDING COMMUNITY THROUGH ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD
At Martha’s we believe that everything we do should be about building relationships and trust with our community. Ultimately our central output and outcome is love. This means something very tangible and real. It means that our moment to moment, day to day, week to week, month to month priorities should be set through the lens of “Does this nurture the relationship I (we) have with my (our) community? Does this thing I am doing enable me to offer love and my presence to our community? Are my words, energy and actions furthering trust, belonging, healing, and relationships in my community”?
HOW WE SERVE OUR COMMUNITY IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT WE SERVE THEM
“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”
― Thomas Merton
EVERY PERSON HAS VALUE AND IS DESERVING OF LOVE, DIGNITY AND RESPECT
In keeping with the call of the Gospel in everything we do, we strive to see God in everyone,
loving all of our neighbors, and serving those in need. With love as our core principle, respect naturally follows. A respect for the intrinsic dignity of every person is paramount and informs how we treat one another; clients, volunteers, and staff alike. Acknowledging someone’s dignity is empowering, and mutual respect creates an atmosphere of collaboration and trust. It is through this spirit of collaboration & trust that the clients we serve are better able to access their own power.
WE ARE NOURISHED IN SPIRIT AS WE NOURISH OUR COMMUNITY
It is important to note that we are all also receiving something beautiful through the offering of our time and energy at the marketplace. The opportunity to serve others and work together towards a common noble goal is invaluable. In this sense we all nourished when we come to the choice marketplace, be it through food, friendship, acceptance, love, camaraderie, compassion, empathy, or purpose.
WE ARE THE COMMUNITY WE SERVE
If we want to see ourselves as a community, we need to realize that we are serving “each other.” “Us and them” perspectives do not allow an avenue for understanding, growth, and mutual respect. This can lead to an often unintended power differential, which can breed resentment and suspicion towards clients, as well as move us away from viewing clients as peers. As a “We,” we can grow together, seek to understand each other, hold each other accountable, and work together toward the common goal of reducing hunger in our community.