When I was appointed to Globe Arizona (coming from Garden Grove), it felt like the end of civilization. There was only one church east of us still in the Western Jurisdiction. But there, on the boarder of two Apache Reservation Communities, in a mining town and county seat, I discovered a church community on the edge of ministry.
We heard from teachers in and beyond the church, that elementary children were coming to school hungry. Families living in poverty, with irregular income, would send their children to school with the little or no breakfast. The school lunch program would provide a solid meal, but energy for the morning lessons was insufficient. The cost for the school to bring in cooks and drivers for a breakfast program was prohibitive.
In response, the church explored means for addressing this and began to partner with the federal breakfast program. We hired a part-time coordinator and recruited many volunteers who prepared the meal, drove a van to pick up those at a distance and welcomed about 30 children every morning school was in session to the church fellowship hall. The church was on the school bus route so, once finished with breakfast, the bus would deliver the children to school.
It wasn’t long before we received letters of appreciation from teachers, who were seeing marked improvement in student attention, progress and esteem. Eating breakfast changed the possibilities for these early learners. A simple meal fostered the flourishing of God’s children.
We don’t always hear about the effectiveness of such cooperative government and volunteer efforts. We hear about abuse, resources not fully employed, and “overhead.” However, studies continue to demonstrate the impact these programs have, providing adequate nutrition to our most vulnerable.
Congress will be considering the renewal of multiple feeding programs this spring;
- National School Lunch Program
- School Breakfast Program
- Summer Food Service Program
- Child and Adult Care Program
- WIC Program
Our offering of letters today is an opportunity for you to share your voice regarding these programs that address hunger. This links our works of mercy in our community with national efforts to shape our systems with compassion and justice.