July 29, 2018: “Jesus took the loaves and when he had given thanks, he distributed them”

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

For three years, the church I serve has been part of a program that provides bags of food for elementary school children to take home on the weekend.

The “Weekend Nutrition Program” started with our congregation and a neighboring Episcopal church shopping for, packing, and delivering 50 bags of food each week to a neighborhood school. Almost immediately, as the program began, we were asked if we could increase to 80 bags a week, because there was a waiting list of children who needed weekend food. Not long after that, a United Church of Christ in our neighborhood joined the effort, and the number of food bags kept rising. By the end of the first semester, local Lutheran and Catholic congregations said they too would help. Five congregations with nearly fifty volunteers were feeding and funding the weekly bags for over 125 children within the first year.

The second year, our program gave money to two congregations to start a similar program at a different elementary school. This year another grant was given, for two more congregations, to start a program at a third school. Currently our original weekend nutrition program is delivering 140 bags per week.

I look at the small bag of food we pack with two breakfast items, two lunch items, two snack items and two juices boxes, and I am amazed at the impact it makes on the lives of so many families in our community. I am convinced that the “miracle” of those food bags is the message of care they offer, as much as the quantity of food. That message of care feeds families with the hope of God’s love long after the food is gone.

Staci Marrese-Wheeler, pastor, Lakeview Moravian Church, Madison, Wisconsin