The new co-op's beginning is made possible primarily by funds from the Equipment Controls Company and the Presbyterian Hunger Program of the PCUSA denomination. "This is a milestone for us and a dream come true," said Chad Hale, Executive Director of GACM. "People need food right now, with the economy worse than ever. We don't feel like we can wait and we are certain we can fund this for a year. Sometimes you have to go on faith and know that the Lord will make a way."
The fifth cooperative will start smaller and build up to 50 families. It will share a day with another cooperative, Co-op 2, and will be run by Jackie Palmer, member and coordinator of Co-op 2.
The ministry will expand to two food runs to the Atlanta Community Food Bank every other Thursday, serving Co-op 2 in the morning and Co-op 5 in the afternoon.
The model at GACM is a simple one, and one that Hale and others at GACM would like to see expand even more to area churches and other groups. Each group comes to the ministry every other week, unloads a ton (literally!) of food from the truck that has driven from the Atlanta Community Food Bank, sorts the food into boxes according to family size, and pays their dues of $3.00 per visit. Fresh produce from the State Farmer's Market is also added to the boxes.
"The dues and work are an important part of the co-op, as members are part Œowners' of the co-op and not just getting what they need for one day. This is different from a food pantry," said Hale. "The ministry provides so people can have food security, which is worth a lot and helps to keep people in their homes. Compared to $100 - $300 they would spend for the same amount of groceries for a month, this ministry helps them be independent and pay other bills, such as electric and gas."
Other services of the ministry include a Wednesday meal and worship service; emergency assistance for rent, utilities, food, and clothing; pastoral support, budgeting and other care, and aid for homeless with mail and temporary storage.
For more information on the Georgia Avenue Community Ministry, please call (404)688.0871 or visit www.gacm.org