Friday, September 16, 2016

Spirit of Invention - 5,000 summer lunches!

By Rev. Kevin Locker

The Summer Lunch program started at Trinity United Methodist Church, Roaring Spring, in 2005, where we served about 25 boxed lunches per week. The program has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. The meals were so popular that our church decided to offer a meal every day for lunch, Monday through Friday, starting on the Monday after school finished for the summer and ending with the last meal served on the Friday before school starts in the fall.

When we saw that meal numbers were increasing, we signed up with the Department of Agriculture that provides some of the funding for the program. During the last few years we have been serving an average of 117 meals per day, and on August 16 we served our five thousandth meal! The children receive a certain amount of protein, fruit and vegetables, milk, and a cookie or a piece of cake as well. Children from the community do not have to pay for the meal, and adults pay $2.50.

 We are known in our community as “the church that feeds people,” and it is not uncommon for people to bring donations of lettuce, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes to share with us. We have five cooks who take turns cooking every day, and we have eighteen people who come in on a rotating basis to hand out utensils, milk, and dessert. We asked the youth of our church to come in to help with serving the milk, and they help to clean up the hall at the end of the meal.

Valerie Locker has been coordinating the meals at the church for the past three years, and she is supported by Fred Hetrick and Jerry Green who care for the online reporting and paying the bills. Valerie asks people from the church to bake cookies and cakes, and they always come in at the time when they are needed most. So we need everyone’s help, and everyone pitches in.

We serve lunch from noon to 1 p.m. The children’s favorite lunches are maxi cheese sticks, which are mozzarella cheese-filled bread sticks that are dipped in sauce, and walking tacos, which are a small bag of Doritos mixed with taco-seasoned meat, chopped onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.

This is a not-for-profit undertaking, and Trintiy UMC prides itself that we are able to do so much good in our community. We have people tell us all the time, “I don’t know if we would have had lunch today,” and “You really help stretch our family’s food dollars.”

We have two special meals during the summer; a turkey dinner with everything made from scratch - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, and apple pie or pumpkin pie. These items are all donated by people from the church. We also have a last day celebration where we serve five of their favorite foods, along with an ice cream bar where they can put on all their favorite toppings. Plus, we have a bounce house and a climbing wall for the kids to enjoy.

It takes a village — no, it takes a church — to feed the children from our community.

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