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Food On a Mission

The Mobile Pantry Giving a Whole New Meaning to the Term "Comfort Food"

Every once in a while, something happens that holds a magnifying glass over the world and helps us to see the realities that may usually be out of our line of sight. The COVID-19 crisis of the last few months has magnified the struggles of so many people who live with food insecurity, trying to piece together enough resources to keep their families fed. Photos of people lined up at foodbanks have gone viral. More and more people have been losing sleep over the loss of work and paychecks. If we were not already aware of just how close many people live to the poverty line, we are now. We can see the fragility of life in a brand new way. Of course, moments like this pandemic also magnify whatever goodness we have missed too. This season has also highlighted the ways people can show up for each other and serve each other.

What we’re seeing in our communities right now is that more people have needs than we know. We’re also seeing others step up to take care and meet these needs. This truth has fueled the work of the non-profit organization, Bogg (an acronym for “because of God’s Grace”) since 2010 - there are people who are hungry, and people who have enough; they need each other.

Bogg’s co-founders, Jason Johnston and Jason Barton, decided to make sure that a few of the families they knew in Miamisburg had enough food for the week ahead. They also understood from the beginning that food was not just about survival, but about connection. We bond over food and drinks. We get more of our emotional and social needs met when there is meaning to our meals. Johnston and Barton started delivering food a couple times a week and getting to know the families they served. They would stay and eat with them, or hang out in the driveway, catching up on how life was going.

Over the years, their mission and their reach has grown exponentially. They’ve gone from serving a handful of families to 200-300 families a week. They do this through mobile food pantries in different neighborhoods all over greater Dayton. Through donations and partnerships, including their connection to Dayton Foodbank, they’re able to send every family home with 100 pounds of food. Johnston says their partnerships are key as they work with schools, non-profits, churches, businesses—any group that has a vested interest in the health of the community. Some of these partnerships have led to creative and compassionate responses to immediate needs. After the mass shooting last year in the Oregon District, Bogg worked with Namesake Coffee to give away 1,000 bags of craft coffee and to draw people into local businesses downtown.

But they know the numbers and the math are only part of the story. Bogg has stayed true to their mission to connect people and community through food. Rather than just an exchange of resources, their mobile food pantries have often turned into block parties, with people serving up food on the grill and kids playing games with Bogg’s volunteers.

As they serve under-resourced communities, Bogg also offers a sense of purpose and connection for the many volunteers who make working with Bogg a priority in their life. Chris Britton, a long-time volunteer, says, “I volunteer with Bogg because I believe in its mission to feed and love people. The simplicity of the mission plays out in the unwavering dedication to provide healthy, wholesome food to as many people as possible.” Eric Chan, another volunteer with Bogg says his connection to the organization is important because he wants to impact his local community and he loves seeing people be genuinely thankful for the food and help that they receive.

The love and community is a crucial part of Bogg’s work. The pandemic has forced them to make changes to the way they get food from one place to another. They’ve had to limit some of what makes their work special. Their block parties have become drive- through events for now. But Johnston says they’ve seen an increase in empathy, stating, “People are just more connected to each other these days and they understand now more than ever what it is to struggle and to take care of each other.”

Bogg believes they’ve also seen what it’s going to take for us all to thrive through this moment in history. Johnston says what they’ve learned over the years is another truth the whole world needs right now: “Change only happens when we put others in front of our own needs.”

For more info on how to connect with Bogg, go to www.thebogg.org or follow them on facebook and Instagram, @boggministries.

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