Following Jesus by Feeding the Hungry
Jesus gave us an example of caring for those in need by feeding the hungry as part of His earthly ministry. At GFC, we’re following His example as part of our ministry at Mountain View School.
When we began serving Mountain View Elementary three years ago, the need for ongoing food support emerged as we interfaced with the school administration. Jan Kincaid, who coordinates all our GFC volunteers at Mountain View, states, “We started with seven ministry engagements, building trust to see what we could do. We did not realize the need for food. Through Christy Gambrell (Family School Coordinator), we learned about this need and found out Second Harvest Food Bank had been meeting this need every other week. We began to fill in the gap.”
Mary Duke McCartt, the Mountain View Family Care Coordinator, explains how we filled that gap, saying, “A friend of mine from church, a registered dietitian, had worked on this [backpack food] program in another city determining healthy food choices for weekend meals. One day we were at the school and saw the bags of food from Second Harvest. I asked Christy [Gambrell] if I could inspect their contents and also asked if the food was provided every week and discovered that it was not! This was a perfect fit for us and for the children at risk. GFC could provide backpack food for the weeks Second Harvest did not.”
And so the Backpack Food Program became part of the GFC Ministry to the school as we currently support 75 children in the program. Yet as we began interfacing with hunger and the need, our awareness of more gaps became apparent!
Although the Backpack Food Program was effective during the school year, we came to the end of that first year realizing when students are out for the summer there is a huge void of food support for many. There was no backpack food program for summer school students, most of whom received some kind of food support during the year. Additionally, other students not attending summer school who received free breakfast and lunch support during the school year had no support at all during summer vacation. This moved our church to explore meeting the need for summer food support. It led us to expand our food support to more children in our community and brought us to become a Second Harvest Food Agency so we could adequately meet a growing need.
Kathi Baty, a GFCer who serves on our Care Team, states, “The Summer School Support began year before last (2011) as we spoke with Christy Gambrell. She told us of the continuing need for our Mountain View kids in the summer. As we know...hunger doesn't just last for the school year...it's all year. We wanted to provide “weekend food backpacks" to our Mountain View kids we served during the school year. However, kids from all over Johnson City attend the summer school during the month of June and we didn't want to exclude non-Mountain View kids. We learned there were 200 elementary kids. So we began our partnership with Second Harvest in order to feed all of these kids. That's 800 backpacks just for the month of June.” Second Harvest was and is a great resource and partner in helping us fulfill the summer food support commitments, as well as those our church has made during the regular school year!
Last year we continued working on filling in gaps in our food support program, partnering with Second Harvest to provide a Mobile Food Pantry that we stationed at Mountain View School on five Saturday mornings last summer. We served over 120 families in the community, including families affiliated with the school, with 40 lb. baskets of food! And at a cost of $5 dollars per box, that is certainly money well spent! It was very well received and our volunteers had a wonderful time!
Kathi Baty says of Second Harvest is “in the business of feeding America, so who better to join forces with to manage this large task of feeding Mountain View families....year round. When we learned of the mobile food pantry we knew this was the answer to our dilemma of feeding Mountain View designated families year round. I think the families that participated last summer benefited greatly, not only from the food, but also from the sense of community by GFC providing a ‘Farmers Market’ type experience for them.”
This summer we’re planning on providing the Mobile Food Pantry for 11 weeks from June until August as part of our Operation Cooperation initiative.
We thank God for the opportunity to show the love of Christ in such a tangible and meaningful way. It has and will continue to have a huge impact upon the Mountain View community. “I believe this ministry is flourishing and showing these hunger-insecure families from Mountain View that GFC is ‘all in’ all the time,” Kathi adds.
Mary Duke sums it up well how she feels about GFC’s tangible expression of our faith through our food support ministry when she states, “I am glad that my church cares for at-risk children in our community. This program is Christ's love in action.”
“If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness and your darkness shall be as the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
Local Outreach Pastor
Posted on Thu, March 21, 2013
by Larry Stamm filed under