A new program aimed at teaching individuals and families how to eat healthier foods is launching soon at Lebanon County Christian Ministries’ FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center.
LCCM is partnering with Better Together Lebanon County and the American Heart Association (AHA) to bring AHA’s Mobile Kitchen directly to FRESH Start guests.
Better Together’s Healthy Food Access committee began providing the AHA’s Mobile Kitchen healthy cooking demonstrations at community events earlier this year to teach people how to eat healthier and prepare food more effectively. The goal is to enhance cooking skills, provide basic food knowledge, reading and implementing a recipe and providing a resource for healthy and cost-effective meals to families.
The launch of the Mobile Kitchen at FRESH Start, which has an average of 15 guests a day, is the latest program that supports the overall goal of helping guests work toward personal sustainability.
“We have a short window of time with our guests,” said Bryan D. Smith, LCCM’s executive director. “If we’re not focusing on any type of personal sustainability with our guests, the big question would be – what are we doing?”
Did you know FRESH Start discharged 130 guests last year? Did you know half of all guests are children? Your donations are vital to fund this important work in Lebanon County. By becoming a monthly donor, you will provide sustainable funding that will provide temporary assistance to families and individuals in Lebanon County and empower them to work toward personal sustainability.
FRESH Start aims to help guests leave the shelter within 30 days, though some individuals and families receive extensions depending on their circumstances. Client support specialists walk along side of guests as they develop and obtain goals such as employment, housing, child care and transportation during their stay at FRESH Start. In the meantime, FRESH Start provides other programming to support and encourage guests to work toward personal sustainability.
“Programmatic wise, we want to look at the social network, we want to look at skill set – I think that’s where the Mobile Kitchen comes in,” Smith said.
The goal is to help establish a knowledge base and skill set to provide tools for guests that will increase their sense of value and save them money.
In addition to the Mobile Kitchen, other programs at FRESH Start include Parent Cafes, offered by Community Action Partnership and Book Buddies, offered by students from Lebanon Valley College.
The Parent Café provides structured discussions where parents and caregivers talk about the challenges of raising a family. These cafes help participants build protective factors within families, learn coping tools for stress, learn about local resources and tools, positive parenting practices, and a stronger parent/child bond.
Book Buddies is an educational opportunity for preschool and elementary students experiencing homelessness. Children in FRESH Start participate in story time and a guided follow up activity.
A financial empowerment program provided by local financial institutions is a future possibility that would provide guests one-on-one counseling to evaluate their specific financial needs, address existing bank liability issues and help them set up a checking account with that financial institution.
“The financial component is really getting to the core of what challenges our guests are facing,” Smith said. “We really need to focus on our programs going beyond their time here so there’s somebody who can walk along side of them once they leave us to help reduce the folks who end up back into our shelter or other shelters.”
Written by Andrea Gillhoolley, development manager, Lebanon County Christian Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (717) 272 4400 ext. 211 to find out how you can become a supporter of LCCM to help change lives in Lebanon County.