The Kids Summer Lunch Program was a success with 1,256 meals served at eight locations around Portland. The program was organized by First Baptist Church of Portland under the direction of Jessica Shadowens. Eight community churches worked together to provide separate feeding locations.
FBC received a grant through the Tennessee Hunger Fund to help with the food purchases. Portland C.A.R.E.S provided bottled water along with the chips and cookies. Meals were served on Tuesdays and Thursdays during June and July.
The average participation per day was 76 children with the highest day being 89 children.
On Tuesdays, after the children ate their lunch, the volunteers told them a Bible story. This was followed up on Thursday with a review and a craft project to go along with the Bible story. This year’s Bible lesson centered on the life of Jesus. One group renamed their lunch time as Bible Lunch when one child told the volunteers he really liked the Bible lunch.
Another participant said, “I like living here. What’s good is getting to be with my Bible friends.”
A breakfast was held in August for the volunteers at FBC fellowship room. Representatives of each church present gave a report on highlights of the program and shared special moments from their feeding stations.
Administrative FBC Pastor Bob Moon said, “Quite frankly one of the most exciting things about this entire process is eight churches working together.”
He added that the agenda was not feeding the children, but was to share the gospel. The product is the children. The food is a need, a bridge, a connector with people to help that happen, he said.
FBC lead Pastor Tim Colovos reminded the volunteers that seeds had been planted that will sprout, and that the program helped develop relationships with people that they might not come in contact with. He added that he trusted life changes were going to occur because of the meals.
Shadowens said, “It was such a great summer. Getting to know kids in this community, sharing lunch with them, and having so many of Portland’s churches working together to meet a need. We look forward to next year and creating new sites. Hopefully, we can get more churches to join us.”
The eight participating churches were First Baptist Church of Portland, Oasis Seventh Day Adventist, Portland Church of Christ, Living Free Fellowship. Church of the Nazarene, McKendree United Methodist Church, Christian Faith Church, and Oak Street Baptist Church.