Carma Mohler Grants in Action
September 9, 2020
If you are passionate about something the way Carma Mohler was about alleviating hunger, please reach out to us and we can help you set up a similar grant or scholarship. If you know of an organization that could benefit from a Carma Mohler Grant, please visit our page to see the full criteria and application. The deadline to submit 2020 applications is October 1.
SPUM Garden – East Des Moines, Iowa
The Sheridan Park United Methodist Church community garden (or SPUM Garden) was created in 2018 (in partnership with Lutheran Services in Iowa) with a primary mission of providing a garden for refugees who arrive in Iowa with agricultural backgrounds. The garden offers a space for refugees, especially those that come from parts of the world where farming is a major part of life, to connect with their new community while growing familiar food for their families. When recommending the garden for the grant one church member said, “It has been a rich experience to garden alongside the refugees, creating a bond between the congregation and the refugee gardeners.” In 2019, SPUM had 12 refugee families (whom they refer to as “New Americans”) from the small Asian nation of Bhutan managing 13 plots. In 2020, there are 14 families from Bhutan and from the African Republic of Congo gardening 14 plots. There are also five plots being gardened by parishioners, including a youth section where the church’s youth group learns how to grow and maintain a pumpkin patch for their annual Halloween party (sadly cancelled this year due to Covid).
Since being named a Carma Mohler grant recipient, the SPUM Garden has been busy. In April 2020 they were able to purchase a rotary tiller, and were able to get the early season crops planted that month. The garden has also added two benches, raised flower beds, and elevated planters for the older or less mobile gardeners. Some of the New Americans expressed a need for trellises for an Asian vine plant, so they have added 14 trellises. As they expand, SPUM and the church congregation are continuing to look for ways to relieve hunger in their community, including providing sweet corn for the neighborhood’s National Night Out and donating extra produce to food pantries and missions. Pastor Douglas Amis wrote to us, “God has blessed us as we have gone forward with the garden and we are blessed to be able to bless others.”
Brooklyn Food Bank – Brooklyn, Iowa
This food pantry originated over 20 years ago in 1998 with a goal of helping local individuals and families who are facing food insecurity. It is operated by churches in Brooklyn including Grace United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, and St. Patrick’s Rectory. Carma Mohler herself was part of the Brooklyn community and attended Grace United Methodist. Every month the food bank serves approximately 65 families and 200 people, including many from surrounding towns that do not have their own food pantry. They also help the nearby Rural Employment Alternative Center by working each month with mentally and physically disabled adults who assist by carrying in the food and putting it away.
With the funds from the Carma Mohler grant, the Brooklyn Community Food Bank has been able to purchase an industrial food scale (they had previously been using a bathroom scale), a new desk to set it on, a collapsible shopping cart, and several hundred reusable grocery bags. While they haven’t been able to use the cloth bags during the pandemic, they are looking forward to eliminating plastic grocery sacks as soon as it is over. The shopping cart has come in very handy, as they are now able to take all groceries out to families who cannot come inside. As the Director of their Board wrote to us, “I’m sure Carma would have been so thrilled to know [the grant] was being used to fight hunger in her hometown of Brooklyn.”