Love INC Launches New Ministry

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COLUMBIA - Non-profit organization "Love In The Name of Christ" (Love INC) is starting a new ministry to bring Amish-grown produce and baked goods to sell to low income familes. The project will be called "People's Produce."

Volunteers will take a van around to impoverished neighborhoods and set up a table filled with freshly grown fruits and vegetables. The group hopes to accept food stamps for the produce.

Along with driving around, People's Produce will set up every Saturday morning at the Love Seat Furniture Bank on Business Loop 70.

The pastor of Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, Meg Hegemann, said it is hard for people who barely have food to consider eating healthy.

She says even at Loaves and Fishes when cooking in bulk, healthier foods are more expensive.

"As much as I love and appreciate food banks, the things that are donated the most are unhealthy and canned food," said Hegemann.

"Rarely do people donate fresh produce, its just not feasible," said Hegemann.

Love INC director Jane Williams and development coordinator David Hockett said they are both nervous about the possibility that people will not be receptive to their goal, but said they have a plan.

"We are working to make food stamps a purchasing tool for the products that we sell," said Williams.

"We are also working with farmers markets to allow food stamps to work there as well," said Williams.

"What I like about this idea is it abridges the stereotypical gap between people that typically eat at soup kitchens and people that shop at farmers markets," said Hegemann. "Anyone can eat and enjoy either one and this is a good way to show that."

Hockett's daughter Tiffany Hockett said the idea behind People's Produce actually started as her brother's college project.

She continues to say she is excited to see what it has grown into.

Hockett's said coming up with the name of the ministry was the easiest part.

"When I come up or think of new services I like to use alliteration. I knew we were going to be offering produce, and we were going to be taking it to the people," said Hockett.

Along with Amish-grown produce, the backyard of the Hockett's house is filled with strawberries, broccoli, and much more. They have been growing product since February, but everything is not ready yet.

People's Produce has already launched, but because this is produce is not readily accessible, the organizers are expecting to take the business full fledged in the next month.