Honor Roll Breakfast — A Moving Event

By Pastor Susan and Erie Beemsterboer

We are all familiar with the honor roll at our children’s school. Well, our first Women’s Guild Honor Roll Breakfast was organized as such: to recognize a woman from our community for the work she does. Moreover, we chose a woman whose work is essential but often in the background. This year our honoree was Yvette Molina from Elijah’s Promise.

A small yet diverse group gathered on the morning of Apr 24th with women from our church, the Interfaith Dialogue Center, Elijah’s Promise, Rutgers Campus Ministry and even the Keyport Reformed Church. All the food was delicious!

Thank you to those of you who contributed in one way or the other. While we were enjoying our second cup of tea or coffee, Lisanne Finston, Director of Elijah’s Promise, gave us a “short” speech about the connection between Food Banks and the national obesity crises. This was an eye opener, and a very informative speech. For instance, cheap food is usually over-processed, non-vegetable or fruit stuff. She compared the dollar menu to the cost of a head of lettuce. When stuck with a tight budget, people buy the hamburger rather than the lettuce. This cheap food, though, is one of the reasons that obesity has increased the last thirty years.

Lisanne also pointed out the typical food donations that “soup kitchens” such as Elijah’s Promise receive from big food donors (which must remain nameless). For instance, she will receive a donation inventory list which will read: six pages of condiments, sodas, energy drinks and two pages of healthy food stuffs. Her point is that these donations are basically “waste management of food that the general population isn’t buying”.

Fascinating and challenging to hear such a description! Waste management… How many of us go to our shelves and look for that can of something that has been sitting there for several years and give that as a food donation? Canned food is part of the over-processed problem. Elijah’s Promise is addressing this problem by making connections to local farmers. There are several groups that are providing donations of fresh food to the soup kitchen. Also, the soup kitchen is trying to move away from canned foods. They are encouraging donors to give fresh vegetables and fruits.

Lisanne has so much to tell us and ask us, and, since we were about twenty people, there was a great deal of discussion about some of the topics that she presented. Some of her suggestions about food donations we will take back with us and see what we can implement here at First Reformed Church.

One of her suggestions was that we watch the movie Food Inc., which would open our eyes to the food industry and our over-processed culture. Look for an invitation to that event. The Women’s Guild is planning to share a meal (of unprocessed food!) and then to watch this movie together.

Once again: “Thank You!”to all of you that came and helped us organize this great event. We will certainly have this on our agenda next year.

About Susan Kramer-Mills

Susan Kramer-Mills' journey as a pastor has led her to a variety of places. Before attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago she was a Volunteer-in-Mission for two years West Berlin, Germany. After returning to the United States and graduating from seminary, she returned with her husband Hartmut to Germany. From 1990 to 1992 she was campus chaplain and registrar at Naumburg Seminary in former East Germany. With the closing of the seminary she assumed the pastorate for the yoked congregations of Stoessen, Goerschen and Rathewitz in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. At the same time she taught Religious Instruction at two public elementary schools until 1998. During this time she was assigned six additional congregations to the original three. In 1998, she received a call as Associate Pastor to Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey. She served in that position until 2000, when she and her husband accepted a call as co-pastors to First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Since April 1, 2004, Rev. Kramer-Mills has also been working part-time as Classis Minister to the Classis of New Brunswick.
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