The Salvation Army exists to serve and give, but wouldn’t exist without those who give and serve. It’s a never-ending circle of trust that bonds The Salvation Army to its donors, their donations, their communities, their neighbors, who return to The Salvation Army for help or to help. The return on investment into the work of The Salvation Army is both measurable, yet at the same time, unquantifiable. The number of clothes given, meals served, shelters provided, rescues from human trafficking, and Christmas presents given can be counted. Measuring the positive outcomes in the lives and health of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities proves more elusive.
In a recent survey of people who have contributed financially to The Salvation Army, donors were most familiar with the organization’s hunger relief efforts. When asked how to describe The Salvation Army, the word, “dedicated,” was the descriptor most frequently used by donors.
Tabernacle Corps is one example of The Salvation Army’s dedication to hunger relief. Located in the Philadelphia’s Fairhill section, Tabernacle Corps provides a feeding program for senior citizens and a food pantry to help address the daily struggles of hunger and food instability. The predominately Hispanic neighborhood is among the city’s poorest and a notorious center of open drug use and drug-related violence.
As the saying goes, “your health is your wealth.” By nourishing the bodies, spirits, and minds of the neighbors it serves, The Salvation Army Tabernacle Corps is working to help those poor in both health and resources. Every Wednesday, 30–35 senior citizens gather for lunch, devotions, crafts, games, and education about the connection between diet and health. A registered dietician volunteers time each week to provide heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly meals for elderly clients. Each meal is designed to expose clients to a wide variety of vegetables, grains, and proteins to increase awareness of healthy food options. The dietician also educates clients on different cooking techniques designed to enhance and release flavor without adding saturated fats and sodium. Diners quickly learn that better food can be delicious.
The Tabernacle Corps feeding program also incorporates information about how different foods affect the body in both positive and negative ways. Working with the Health Department, the Philadelphia Department for the Aging, and local pharmacists, clients can have their blood pressure and blood-glucose monitored weekly, and periodically sign up for cancer screening and other diagnostic tests.
Captains Francisca and Miguel Robinson oversee Tabernacle Corps programs, outreach, and ministry. “Our clients are eating broccoli, asparagus, chicken breasts and other foods that they might not know how to cook,” said Captain Robinson. “They are also learning how food can be like medicine for the body, lowering blood pressure and making them healthier to stay independent longer.”