Our Children’s Table continues a long community tradition of feeding children in need during summer and winter school breaks, when many children might otherwise be underfed.
For over 10 years, the Pulaski County School System bused food and books to areas with large concentrations of low-income children, with funds from the federal Summer Feeding program. In its last year, the food program also brought food from Project 58:10 to supplement the lunches. Started by another local church, Project 58:10 provided children with bags of food each weekend.
In 2014, financial constraints forced the School System to end the program.
That’s when the Missions Committee of Somerset First United Methodist Church felt called to continue this much-needed outreach.
We knew that during the school year, many of these children receive three free meals a day at their schools. During the summer, low-income families can find it hard to stretch their incomes and/or Food Stamps to provide these meals. Beginning in June 2014, we were able to serve an average of 120 children in low-income apartment complexes and mobile home parks.
We continued to partner with Project 58:10 churches and provided each child with one of their bags as well as the fresh lunch and milk from the Federal Feeding Program.
Twice a week, when school is out, our volunteers take a church van full of food and books into these neighborhoods. After realizing how much this food meant to the children, the congregation became distressed about serving these children during fall, winter and spring school breaks. There is no Federal Feeding program for those times. We committed to keep The Children’s Table running then and to raising the funds to provide these children with at least one meal each week, plus a bag of food that they could serve themselves.
How Can I Help?
Volunteer or Donate: This ministry is strictly volunteer driven. Members of our church drive and ride the bus to serve meals, hand out the books and provide encouragement. Members of the Pulaski County Family Resource and Youth Service Centers also volunteer their time to ride with us. This gives them a chance to connect with their students during the summer and other breaks, as well as check on their well being. Our major costs during the summer are books and fuel expenses. During the three school breaks, (not including summer) it costs around $500 a week for the lunches and supplemental bags. Again, it is hard to estimate the cost of books that we would like to offer during these breaks. These monies are not included in our church budget and we are relying on donations to support this ministry. Contact us if you would like to donate or volunteer to serve!
Books: We offer new books to the children each week during the summer and the breaks. Statistics show that the literacy rate among low-income children is much lower than their peers in middle-income families partially due to lack of books in the home. Many of these families are transient and books are not a high priority to take when they move. These children hear 32 million fewer words than their counterparts by age 4.
YOUR KROGER CARD CAN KEEP ON GIVING!
If you have not enrolled, this is a great time to do so! The monies the Missions Committee receives through the Kroger Community Rewards program goes straight into funding for the Children’s Table. Our greatest financial need is during the fall, winter and spring school breaks when we are purchasing the food for the lunches and additional food bags. Kroger donates a percentage of each of your grocery purchases to The Children’s Table – all you have to do is sign up (see options above) and refer to organization # 11335 With only a phone call or going online and registering your Plus Card, you can make sure that Kroger will increase its contribution to our program. This does not affect your points earned on your Kroger Plus Card. It’s easy to register! August 1st -August 31st, each participant currently signed up to support the Children’s Table through Kroger Community Rewards will be required to re-enroll his or her Kroger Plus card on an annual basis.
Option 1: Online you can enter Kroger Community Rewards Program and click on Sign Up Today. You will create an account and enter #11335 as the Organization number for our church. Have your Kroger Plus Card handy as you will need to enter that number.