Pictured above: (1) BGCPackingMeals: Program partner Boys and Girls Club of Martin County work in the House of Hope food distribution center preparing meal kits for their participants to take home on weekends ensuring they have food to eat when not at the Club; (2) Salad Kits to Food Partners: House of Hope provides hundreds of pounds of fresh produce kits to fellow agencies.
House of Hope Evolves During Pandemic to Better Serve Struggling Households
House of Hope has always embraced change by recognizing opportunities and evolving to incorporate new ways to help empower thousands of local residents to overcome hunger and hardship each month. Most recently, by exponentially growing the number and scale of food partners, utilizing generous donations efficiently, and tackling the ambitious realm of producing farm-fresh food – House of Hope’s model has grown to position itself as a reliable food bank to fellow agencies. This shift has been in the making for months, however, the COVID-19 Pandemic created the pressing need to hit the ground running in order to meet the drastic increase in assistance being sought after. The agency jumped from serving 5,500 local residents monthly to averaging a staggering 7,000 per month through four House of Hope food pantries as well as thousands more via partnering agencies.
Traditionally, area charities had a struggle procuring the needed pantry staples and supplies to serve those in need usually resorting to purchasing these items. This expense being a significant chunk of budgets limited the resources available to fund other programs offered by those organizations. House of Hope’s substantial food distribution to partners exponentially increases the variety, quality and quantity of food items available and they are shared with House of Hope’s program partners at no cost. This not only improves the offerings for each of these various feeding programs, it frees up funding for these agencies to offer more robust and impactful additional services to the Martin County households they help. Approximately 7000,000lbs of food have already been provided by House of Hope to area organizations during the COVID response.
Partners such as Farm Share, Restoration Bridge International, Publix, CROS Ministries have helped provide thousands of pounds of fresh food, much of it direct from growers across the Southeastern U.S. Dairy and eggs, for example, used to be next to impossible to procure and now House of Hope has such a steady supply that not only do the agency’s four Martin County pantries offer it often, program partners such as LAHIA, First United Methodist's Manna Kitchen, Safespace, and the Boys and Girls Club of Martin County have been able to access the previously impossible inventory.
House of Hope’s most unique game changers have been its new Growing Hope Farm and the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, both having exceeded the expectations set for these assets producing and preparing 8,000 units of nutritionally balanced meals and snacks each month. Hydroponically and aeroponically grown produce is harvested and prepared on the same day by staff and volunteers pairing with donated food items to create nutritionally balanced salads, sandwiches, meal kits and snacks to be distributed by House of Hope pantries and partner agencies. The initial goal of these programs was to improve the health and stability of families through nutrition, an initiative promoted as “Hope For Health.” The successes of these programs have helped that initiative to stretch far beyond House of Hope’s own pantry clientele now also impacting fellow agencies' recipients.
House of Hope Board Chairman, Hans VanDerlip shares, “House of Hope continues in its quest to serve the residents of Martin County to the best of our ability. In this time of unparalleled unpredictability, the staff and volunteers of House of Hope consistently go above and beyond. As the needs of our community change and evolve so will the manner in which we proudly and humbly serve.”
About House of Hope
Founded in 1984, House of Hope touches the lives of over 7,000 people per month with services that include basic needs -- food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance -- and long-term case management which helps people build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. The agency has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown and Jensen Beach. Several nutrition gardens and the newly constructed Growing Hope Farms provide a sustainable source of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health and overall well-being.
For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call (772) 286-4673. House of Hope updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @hohmartin.