Homestead Ministries: Minimizing hunger with local resources and volunteers




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Greg Nolan, Founder Homestead Ministries

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Tom Reidner, Founder of Homestead Ministries

COLFAX, WASH. — With the help of Homestead Ministries out of Colfax, Wash., many hungry people are being fed throughout the region.

Tom Reidner and friend, Greg Nolan, founded Homestead Ministries a year and one-half ago. Though they each work full-time, they take vacation days and work with schools, churches and other organizations to package soup mix. The outlets include food pantries at both the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

Homestead Ministries is a non-denominational faith-based volunteer organization that supports local agriculture and is dedicated to finding solutions to reduce hunger locally and regionally. Their pamphlet states, “Our desire is to help people feed their families by providing a delicious, nutritious protein-based product.”

The mixes go to local food banks and other feeding programs and outreaches and the food comes from locally grown sources. This include peas, lentils, barley and other beans. Dollar stores also sell the mixes with proceeds returning to the program.

Reidner is a commodities buyer and has been able to purchase “slightly less than perfect but still in great shape and nutritionally excellent,” legumes. This includes peas and beans that may be somewhat chipped or misshapen, but perfectly edible.

“It’s a way to use some of our local agricultural products and offer nutritious items,” Nolan said.

“These were grown right here on the Palouse,” added Reidner, holding up a bag of lentil soup mix.

COLFAX, WASH. — With the help of Homestead Ministries out of Colfax, Wash., many hungry people are being fed throughout the region.

Tom Reidner and friend, Greg Nolan, founded Homestead Ministries a year and one-half ago. Though they each work full-time, they take vacation days and work with schools, churches and other organizations to package soup mix. The outlets include food pantries at both the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

Homestead Ministries is a non-denominational faith-based volunteer organization that supports local agriculture and is dedicated to finding solutions to reduce hunger locally and regionally. Their pamphlet states, “Our desire is to help people feed their families by providing a delicious, nutritious protein-based product.”

The mixes go to local food banks and other feeding programs and outreaches and the food comes from locally grown sources. This include peas, lentils, barley and other beans. Dollar stores also sell the mixes with proceeds returning to the program.

Reidner is a commodities buyer and has been able to purchase “slightly less than perfect but still in great shape and nutritionally excellent,” legumes. This includes peas and beans that may be somewhat chipped or misshapen, but perfectly edible.

“It’s a way to use some of our local agricultural products and offer nutritious items,” Nolan said.

“These were grown right here on the Palouse,” added Reidner, holding up a bag of lentil soup mix.

Reidner and Nolan have the process down to a science and set up assembly lines for groups to pick up a small bag and go through the line while others add the correct amount of chili pepper, onions, garlic and other spices. These are then carried to another table where they are hot sealed by additional volunteers. The same process is followed with the labeling of the mixes and the beans, down to packing 40 bags of soup mix in a box. They use a cargo trailer to take their setup from place to place.

“Could we do this faster without a wide range of kids and volunteers helping at the schools and other places we go to?” smiled Reidner. “Sure.”

“But then they wouldn’t be involved in the process of helping and giving back to their communities,” added Nolan. “This way, they have a real investment in it.”

The duo said statistics show that one in every five children in the Northwest goes to bed hungry at night and that 34 percent of kids in the Northwest and 21 percent of the elderly struggle with hunger issues.

“Homestead Ministries and our partners are working toward reducing these issues,” the men said.

Nolan said what sold him on Homestead and its value in the first place was, basically, the “bang for the buck.”

“About $5 worth of the soup product can feed 60 people,” he said. “That’s a coffee to many of us. It showed me it takes just a little to be able to do a lot.”

Those who wish to help with the non-profit can donate commodities such as peas, garbanzos, wheat or barley. Money is also needed to help purchase spices, packing supplies and provide transportation. Volunteers are also sought to help build soup mixes. Schools, organizations, clubs and churches are invites to contact Homestead.

“We like to see a lot of parents come in and help with the process, too,” emphasized Reidner. “It helps to get the project completed more smoothly, but it also helps bring awareness to hunger issues.”

To contact Homestead Ministries call Reidner at 208-305-6548 or Nolan at 509-553-6944; write P.O. Box 148, Colfax, WA 99111. See their page on Facebook.

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