We are pleased to welcome Allie Parsons as our new Community Engagement Coordinator here at Christian Service Mission! Allie is no stranger to CSM; in fact, she interned here during her senior year of college at Samford. During her internship, Allie helped us start our Cooking Well program, combining her nutrition background with her love for ministry. Allie joined us full-time in October and since then has been working tirelessly to revamp our Community Gardens and Aquaponics/Hydroponics. Because of her degree in Food and Nutrition, Allie brings a unique perspective to our garden programs. She intends to use that to help others in our community learn about the benefits of locally grown foods.

Before returning to CSM, Allie found herself working as a nutritionist in a wealthier zip code focusing her work on weight loss. While there, she realized that many of her clients’ food-related issues had deeper roots than just physical circumstances – in many cases, they were tied to their spiritual health. Feeling called to minister to both people’s physical and spiritual health, Allie began looking for a place she could do just that. That’s when God intervened, and a position at CSM became available. Allie knew this was exactly what she was looking for: an opportunity to go back to why she got into nutrition in the first place and to focus more closely on hunger and food insecurity.

Allie joined us back in October and is working on the many goals we have for the gardens. First, she is working to ensure that the Community Gardens located at some of our partner churches around Birmingham become high producers that eventually can be entirely operated by those in the community. Allie is also making our campus gardens able to be used for more educational purposes. She hopes these gardens will be available to all people in the community and that churches will see gardening as a ministry opportunity. Because much of the soil in Birmingham is not fit to grow food in, our raised-bed Community Gardens offer a solution to this and allow for access to locally grown produce. As Allie says, “You can tell someone what to eat all day, but if they don’t have access to it, it’s a lost cause.” She is also excited to get to work with our summer camps and teach students the importance of eating healthy, while also showing them how they can make their own hydroponic gardens in their home. We’re so excited to have Allie on our team and cannot wait to see how God uses her and our garden programs in the future!