Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aldersgate Offers Free Sack Lunches in South Huntsville

Emma McCauley is the youth
minister at Aldersgate UMC.

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Emma McCauley just came in to tell me about a wonderful program that Aldersgate United Methodist Church is providing this summer: Free Sack Lunches at Ken Johnston Park. Every Monday - Friday from now until July 29, anyone can go to the park from 11:30-12:30 to receive a delicious sack lunch. They will be taking a break on July 4, however.

Meeting a Need

In her role as youth pastor at Aldersgate, Emma and her co-workers in the youth and children's programs were concerned about the kids in their ministries who normally receive a hot lunch at school, but would go without this summer. They did some research and discovered that over 2000 children in the South Huntsville area are dependent upon the hot lunch program in their schools. So she opened a dialogue with the Food Bank and Manna House where she learned about the government program Feed America. Although the grant application process was arduous, Emma and her coworker Lydia persevered and are now Feed America grant recipients, receiving meals for children every day from the Food Bank of North Alabama.

Right now they are providing daily lunches for about 30 children a day ranging in age from 2-17. The sack lunches for children consist of a meat, a fruit, milk, and a salad of some kind. However, Aldersgate is also providing meals for adults at no cost. The adult meals are either peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a meat sandwich and granola bars with a dessert treat. Lowe's has donated a palate of water (1888 bottles), so everybody who comes gets a bottle of cold water.

Another fun feature that virtually eliminates any food waste is the share table where children can put anything they don't want from their meal. There is always somebody who would love an extra milk or potato salad.

Several times a week they have Sno-Cones or water balloons just to make things fun for everybody. Follow them on Facebook at Picnic in the Park to see what's happening next.

Special Moments

The other day a young mom was there with her 3 year old and her own father. While Granddad played with the little boy, the mother was actually able to enjoy a healthy meal. The Granddad lives out of town, but was in town visiting and was able to have fun with his grandson at the park and create some very special memories.

One young man who will begin high school in the fall comes each day on his bike and takes 7 meals home to his family. His mother is unable to bring all the children each day because one child is sick, so he is actually able to eat the Feed America meal (which must be eaten on site), but then he takes home a meal from Aldersgate for each family member.

Young people from the church as well as families with small children and even retirees have come together to serve meals to their neighbors. Emma says, "God has called us to serve our neighbors, and that's what we're doing. It can be as simple as a sandwich and a bottle of water. But it's something all ages can do together."

If you or someone you know needs a good meal for lunch head on over to Ken Johnson Park. They will be delighted to see you!