Westminster responds to local concerns in many ways including hosting a homeless shelter in our building, collecting and serving food to local people experiencing homelessness as well as so much more. Every day of the week we have guests from Family Promise in our building.
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Westminster supports the Central Iowa Shelter & Services' work to care and advocate for those families and individuals experiencing homelessness in Polk County by preparing and serving the evening meal on the 22nd of each month (excluding April, August and December).
The Food Pantry Collection Team at Westminster collects food, hygiene and monetary donations go to the DMARC Food Pantry Network. Across Polk County, DMARC annually provides the equivalent of about 1.6 million meals for 34,000 food pantry participants through 13 neighborhood-based pantry sites. Supporting DMARC is one of the many ways Westminster is committed to fighting hunger and poverty in our community.
In 2012, Westminster became a partner with the Food Bank of Iowa’s “Backpack Buddies” program. Backpack Buddies is a program created as a direct response to the crisis of childhood hunger. In partnership with the Food Bank of Iowa, local schools and community organizations, like Westminster, the program provides healthy snack and meal items to sustain children through the weekend. Counselors, nurses, and teachers help identify children who do not have reliable access to food when out of school. The Food Bank of Iowa provides food and Westminster volunteers deliver the food to schools on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Westminster has a long-standing connection with CROSS Ministries. Every August the Westminster congregation supports CROSS Ministries by collecting donations, packing backpacks with grade appropriate school supplies, and distributing backpacks. 1,641 backpacks were given away in 2016.
God’s Garden is in its fourth season. The garden is watered and tended by our Garden Team and Westminster Preschoolers. On Sundays, in season, the Garden Team operates Veggie Sales, selling produce to the congregation. Donations all go to DMARC. Left over produce is taken to one of the food pantries, often CROSS Ministries.
Family Promise of Greater Des Moines, is a homeless shelter affiliated with the national Family Promise organization. It is a unique shelter—one of only two in Des Moines—that provides accommodations for entire families, including male head-of-households, and older male children. They can serve up to 14 people, or three families at a time. The Day Center is housed at Westminster, and overnight stays are hosted by local congregations, which shelter the families for a week at a time. Westminster also hosts overnight stays for several weeks throughout the year. During at least two of these hosting weeks, the church provides all of the volunteer support, room reservations, meals, and other requirements in order to accommodate the families overnight.
SUMMIT (SUMmer MIssion Team) is a summer internship for Westminster’s college-age young adults who want to work in the community and the church to make a difference in the world. SUMMIT provides participants with the opportunity to give of themselves, share their experiences with fellow team members, and gain valuable internship experience.