Expanding into New Year

Kristen McPhee, a nutrition educator for University of Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) program, leads a group through Safeway and discusses healthy grocery shopping.

Kristen McPhee, a nutrition educator for University of Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE) program, leads a group through Safeway and discusses healthy grocery shopping.

From serving dinner on Wednesday nights to offering GED classes, the Franciscan Center launched many new programs in 2013 that broadened our reach to city residents in need. While expansion is not a novel term at the Franciscan Center, our outreach has certainly set a positive direction for the year ahead.

“I am very excited for a New Year here at the Center. We will be building on the many new services that were started in 2013, such as the GED course we are now offering each spring and fall and the Wednesday evening Supper Club,” said Franciscan Center Executive Director Christian Metzger. “We are also initiating programs that we worked hard to set up last year, like becoming one of only three official Fuel Fund sites in Baltimore and the new database tracking system that will allow us to better serve those in need. We have even started offering free haircuts for men each Monday to accompany our Attire 4 Hire program. There are so many ways that we are continuing to address the needs of our guests.”

Here are just a few of the programs launched at the Franciscan Center last year that will continue into 2014:

The Fresh Harvest Community
Supported Agriculture (CSA) Project One of the most talked-about projects of the past year, our Fresh Harvest CSA Project is a collaboration between the Franciscan Center, United Way of Central Maryland, Molly Shattuck Vibrant Living, One Straw Farm, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and the University of Maryland Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Education Program (FSNE). The Center distributed free weekly CSA shares to 49 low-income families and individuals from June through November 2013, giving them access to fresh vegetables throughout the entire growing season.

During the project, the Center tracked each participant’s progress and thoughts about the produce they received. With the assistance of our project partners, the Center also provided educational materials and recipes to each participant, along with access to nutritionists and public health advocates. Our staff is currently tallying the results and will have a report available in the coming months.

Supper Club
In partnership with a group of Baltimore-area churches, the Center held its first “Supper Club” on Wednesday
evening, June 20 and served 80 people. Since the first night, the Supper Club has served more than 4,000 meals and continues to grow more popular among Baltimore’s “working poor.” The Supper Club serves a hot meal at the Center every Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m.

Food Distribution Events
In partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, the Franciscan Center held its first Mobile Pantry Food Distribution Event in August, distributing more than 10,000 pounds of fresh food to area families and individuals. In 2014, we will host this event on Saturday morning, every other month beginning in February. Depending on the time of the year, Baltimore City residents may receive a variety of fresh produce including corn, green beans, squash and watermelon. During the colder months, canned goods and other non-perishable foods are offered as well. The next Food Distribution Event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 8.

GED Classes
This past fall, the Franciscan Center began offering GED classes in partnership with the South Baltimore Learning Center, a non-profit with a mission to improve the self-sufficiency of educationally disadvantaged adults. Classes are held in the spring and fall, Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Franciscan Center.

Fuel Fund
In 2013, the Franciscan Center became one of three organizations in Baltimore to be named a “Fuel Fund” site. Through this service, the Franciscan Center will help qualify city residents to receive money from the Fuel Fund, which will help them pay their gas and electric bills. While utility assistance is part of the Franciscan Center’s Responsive Services, the Fuel Fund will allow the Center to serve more people in a more significant way. This service is scheduled to begin in 2014.

Free haircuts are being offered at the Franciscan Center every Monday.

Free haircuts are being offered at the Franciscan Center every Monday.

New Computer System
Toward the end of 2013, the Franciscan Center switched over to an entirely new computer system, Client Track, which will help staff better track and report programs and services. Special thanks to the Morris Goldseker Foundation and to the
Franciscan Center’s Board of Directors for making this change possible.

Barber Services
Free haircuts are now being offered at the Franciscan Center every Monday. Special thanks to local barber, Antwone Hooper, for donating his time and his talents!

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