Community Spotlight: Micah 6 of Austin
by Beth Long
“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (MEV)
The beginnings of something wonderful
Several years ago, a group of compassionate, caring members of churches in the University of Texas area met to address the needs of hungry people in the UT area and in Austin. For over two years, these churches actively planned and strategized, with the ultimate goal of creating a cooperative food pantry for the Austin area.
The product was Micah 6 of Austin, a mission that now includes the original food pantry, a women’s resource center, street youth community gardens, a street youth drop-in center, a freeze night shelter and “Home Cooked Fridays.”
The churches supporting this effort include University Christian Church, Congregational Church, Hyde Park Presbyterian, All Saints’ Episcopal, University Methodist, St. Austin’s Catholic, Highland Park Baptist, First English Lutheran, University Baptist, University Avenue Church of Christ, University Presbyterian, and The Sanctuary (formerly Tarrytown Baptist).
As the LARGEST food pantry in Travis County, Micah 6 feeds 250-300 hungry families per week, which amounts to 14,000 shopping trips with an average of 39 pounds of food for each shopper. By the end of 2018, it is projected that Micah 6 will distribute 600,000 pounds of food to needy families.
How University Christian Church Supports Micah 6
As a contributing member of Micah 6, UCC donates food every week and volunteer at the pantry. Also, UCC parishioners help pick up and deliver food donations from grocery stores as well as unload food trucks carrying food from the Central Texas Food Bank.
In fact, University Christian Church has been on the forefront of the Micah 6 organization since its inception. Financial support for Micah 6 and its services has been an ongoing outreach mission for UCC.
The youth drop-in center was created with the assistance of two of our own members, Craig Bell and Sue Moss, to provide a safe place on Sunday afternoons for homeless youth (30 years and younger) to relax out of the weather, while enjoying computer access and a hot, home-cooked meal. Currently, about 25-30 street youth are served by this program per week. UCC groups help provide the meals and monitor the area in cooperation with other partner church members.
Each year, members of UCC serve on the board of Micah 6 to guide decisions for the future. Currently, our own Sandy Harden is the Micah 6 board president and new UCC member, Rev. Barry Smith, is the Executive Director.
Most recently, the UCC board voted to spend $15,000 from its mission fund monies, created from the Nordan Estate gift, to help furnish the Micah 6 kitchen at All Saints Episcopal Church. This project will assist in the preparation of meals for Home Cooked Fridays, as the much-needed equipment being installed includes a vent hood replacement, commercial food processor, commercial mixer, 80” freezing unit, shelving, and storage. Also, these funds will assist in providing a consistent funding source for specific foods that Micah 6 can’t depend upon receiving solely through food donations.
As a collaboration between Micah 6 and the Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, Home Cooked Fridays has been serving clients since 2016. This program serves hot, home-cooked meals each Friday in a loving, friendly environment. A team of 20-25 volunteers works from 12:30-6:00 pm to prepare and serve this nourishing meal to walk-in guests. Some weeks, up to 100 guests are served. Current projections estimate that up to 5000 meals will be served by the end of 2018.
Micah 6 Needs Your Help!
Micah 6 needs more than 60 volunteers to operate the pantry each week. If you’re interested in volunteering for Micah 6 or would like more information about other ways you can support this vital mission, contact Executive Director Barry Smith at volunteer@Micah6austin.org.
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