Smyrna First UMC Receives Grant to Expand Feeding Ministry

By Cindy Solomon

Church and community members attend the first Senior Adults Living Triumphantly (SALT) feeding and program ministry for seniors at Smyrna (Tennessee) First United Methodist Church. Thanks in part a Golden Cross Foundation grant, the ministry will be expanded once the all-clear is given to safely gather after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smyrna (Tennessee) First United Methodist Church received a $1,200 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. The grant will be used to expand a feeding ministry for the church’s older adult members and community.

From its first event on May 5, 2017 — a Cinco De Mayo festival that fed 92 people — the Senior Adults Living Triumphantly (SALT) ministry has served adults who are 55 years and older. Many of those adults fall into the lower income brackets.

“Prior to SALT,” said committee member Jackie Vaughan, “our church did not focus on senior adult programming. After realizing the need and forming the SALT committee, members sent a survey to parishioners and asked what they would like this ministry to provide.”

As a result, SALT’s goals include regular gatherings for senior adults consisting of a free lunch and programming that enriches participants’ lives and increases awareness of community needs. Such gatherings help prevent isolation for church and community members and provide connections to one another and the church.

Elle Elliott, a Smyrna resident who attended pre-pandemic SALT events, said, “Thanks for calling and inviting me to your SALT meeting. I love the group and events you put on. The programs really benefit me.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary pause on gatherings and outreach programs, SALT committee members eagerly anticipate resuming once the all-clear to gather together is given by the state and church leaders deem it safe.

“We look forward to applying the Golden Cross Foundation grant and expanding the SALT ministry,” said Vaughan. “It will provide, on a rotating basis, monthly meals or groceries to residents of five senior-living establishments in our area.”

Before receiving the grant, the SALT ministry fed a free meal to an average of 40 church members each month. Once activities resume, members plan on expanding the ministry to feed about 60 people monthly.

A recent recipient of SALT’s outreach program said, “Thank you for providing these products. I have no car and cannot get to the store to buy groceries. Plus, I have little money after prescriptions and rent.”

Everyone is looking forward to the day when health threats from the pandemic have passed. Thanks in part to the grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, church and community senior adult members can also look forward to future SALT events and meals.

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