If you live or work in Lebanon County, chances are you may have heard of Lebanon County Christian Ministries (LCCM).
You may also know that the nonprofit is a provider of essential services such as food, clothing and shelter to individuals and families in need, and you may have even donated over the years.
But did you know that a network of dedicated volunteers is central to our operation? Or that we distributed 406,975 pounds of food in the last fiscal year?
We want to open to the lines of communication to you, the community, so that we can make Lebanon County a better place for its residents.
Without partnerships with passionate individuals, organizations and businesses, our small staff just simply couldn’t carry out its mission of serving the immediate felt needs of the community.
The services administered by LCCM’s employees and volunteers is a direct response to the issues afflicting a significant portion of Lebanon County’s residents, ranging from food insecurity to homelessness.
Here are 10 things you should know about LCCM:
1. Humble beginnings
LCCM began its history 37 years ago as a food pantry when area churches joined together in response to the Bethlehem Steel Plant closing. Many of the workers had worked at the plant through several generations and had no skills other than nut and bolt fabrication. They had a hard time finding jobs, which made it difficult to feed their families. Acknowledging the hardship, Christian churches joined together to provide the much-needed food.
2. LCCM isn't just a food bank
Today, LCCM is a multi-faceted organization. While food is still a main focus of the ministry, LCCM also provides shelter, clothing, sponsors the daily free noon meal, provides heating energy and water bill assistance, the summer food program for children, administers the USDA's federal government surplus food program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
3. LCCM provides tons of food - literally
LCCM serves as the food and clothing bank for Lebanon County. Eligibility for food and/or clothing is based on need, not income. An interview with the family or individual is used to determine the need as well as determining if other services or referrals to other agencies could be provided. Eligible families or individuals can then receive a 7-to- 10-day supply of food. In fiscal year 2018-19, total pounds of food distributed in all of LCCM’s programs equaled 406,975 pounds!
4. Volunteers walk along side of guests who need clothing
Speaking of clothing, a dedicated group of volunteers sort, pair, fold, hang and prepare clothing items for display in the clothing bank. Once an individual has been approved for clothing support, a volunteer walks along side of the individual and they shop for their needs. In 2018-19, LCCM provided an astounding 20,049 items to individuals in need. LCCM served 1,015 adults, 699 children and 862 families. We are currently taking winter clothing donations. Here are our current needs.
5. We serve an average of 130 meals a day
A hot lunch is served every day from noon to 1 p.m. at city churches or at LCCM by volunteers and is available to anyone who needs a lunch. There are no appointments, interviews or any other qualifications required. Anyone who needs a lunch may partake of the meal. In fiscal year 2018-19, 47,180 meals were served – that’s an average of 130 meals served daily. Over the next year, LCCM is working to connect community organizations to the free noon meal guests so they can become aware of services available in the community.
6. We host an average of 15 guests per night in our shelter
For years, Lebanon County lacked an emergency shelter with the capacity to accept families or individuals facing an immediate housing crisis. In 2012, that need was addressed. Today, the FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center serves an average of 15 guests per night. The resource center is located at LCCM’s 250 S. 7th St. location in Lebanon where guests can prepare meals, do laundry, take showers and list as a reference when looking for work or housing. LCCM relies on partner churches and volunteers to house guests overnight throughout the year. In fiscal year 2018-19, we provided 5,555 nights of stay, hosted an average of 15 guests per night, and 130 guests were discharged to housing. Over the last seven years of operation, we found that children generally make up one-half of the individuals served by FRESH Start.
Volunteer Rick Kindt will work 8 am to 1 pm each Wednesday during TEFAP distribution. Kindt has volunteered for LCCM for 4 years, and particularly the TEFAP program, during the last year and a half. It’s a good fit, he said, noting that he worked in the grocery business for years. “When I first came in here I started bagging and Scott (operations manager) said ‘Hey, you’re pretty fast,’” he said. “ I said ‘yeah, I had a lot of experience.”
7. 23,000 recipients of TEFAP pick up bags of groceries at LCCM
As Feeding America describe it, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a means-tested federal government program that provides food commodities at no cost to Americans in need of short-term hunger relief through food providers like emergency food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. LCCM is a major distribution site for TEFAP. A free bag of food is distributed to eligible households one time per month. Community members who earn 150% of the poverty guideline complete a self-declaration form and are provided with food to help address food insecurity. Food is provided each Wednesday from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (excluding the 5th Wednesday). This program is supported by numerous volunteers who, in the last fiscal year, served 23,125 recipients. Of those recipients, 31% were children, 20% were elderly and 9% were homebound individuals. LCCM isn’t the only distribution site in the county. Others include: Caring Cupboard in Palmyra, Trinity United Methodist Church in Lickdale and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Schaefferstown.
8. More than 32,000 volunteer hours make LCCM possible
Volunteers are central to Lebanon County Christian Ministries. Without them, we just simply couldn’t carry out day-to-day operations to assist thousands of people each year. Over 32,000 hours are logged in by our 130-plus volunteers each year. The network, however, is much larger than that – we estimate about 400 total volunteers who help during events and at free noon meals.
9. All about the kids
Because a high percentage of students in the Lebanon School District qualify for the government's reduced-cost or free lunch program, the school made the program available to all students throughout the school year. But what do those students do for a lunch-time meal over the summer months, when school is not in session, and a lot of their parents are working? Attend the LCCM Summer Food Service Program, of course. LCCM provides free meals to children, ages 18 and under, throughout the summer months.
10. We can't do all of this without you
LCCM makes every effort to align our resources with the needs of the community. Our resources, however, involve an expense and our biggest need from the community is financial resources to execute programs and services. If it was not for the generosity of our delegates, board of directors, volunteers, donors and community at large, we would not be able to serve the thousands of people who need it most. If you have a passion for what we do and feel led to partner with LCCM to address the needs of the Lebanon County community, please consider becoming a monthly donor, volunteering or donating goods, or communicating your vision and creative solutions to the issues our neighbors face in Lebanon County. Together, we can meet people’s most basic needs, and empower their own personal sustainability. The effects of giving someone a hand up will have a ripple effect that will make Lebanon County a better place for all of us to live, work and play.