Since 2001, Southern Baptists have been actively involved in providing food for hungry children in Appalachian. In the wealthiest country in the world, 17.3 million children are at risk for food and frequently go hungry. In the Central area of Appalachia over 502,000 children daily face a food crisis.
Here is an edited email I received, August 17, 2018. The writer is a public high school teacher and a pastor in West Virginia. He writes, “There is a tremendous need in our school, especially for food. I am attempting to start a weekend food program for the children that qualify. According to last year’s statistics, 60% of our high school students were at the poverty line or below with 93 % of our students qualifying for free or reduced lunches.
“Starting a weekend food program is difficult, especially getting the necessary funding and support. I am working on community involvement. My principal is 100% behind this. She has given me a room to store food and a class period to work on the weekend food program.”
The teacher/pastor continues, “I also have a program to assist needy families at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. I could use assistance supplying this need also. Last year, 320 families (1,200 people) were invited to the school gym and were given the gospel and then a bounty of goods for their families. I have a lot of pictures to show how successful it was. Usually, the biggest event is the second Sunday in December. If your organization could help, there would be a great benefit to the less fortunate of this southern West Virginia region. Thanks for your consideration.”
First through Appalachian Regional Ministry and now through Appalachian Mountain Ministry, Southern Baptists have been assisting local SBC churches and compassionate ministry sites with resources and short-term mission volunteers since 2001. One hundred percent (100%) of all the funds we received are given to those in areas of need with whom we have a working relationship. Many individuals assist each month with the purchase of food by donating funds for that purpose. Click here if you are interested in helping.
One of the ministries we have worked with in Eastern Kentucky is Sacks of Love. The article below was recently a feature article in “Kentucky Today,” a daily digital publication of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Sacks of Love Ministers to Hungry Children in Eastern Kentucky
By Judy and Frankie Caulder
BENHAM, Ky. (KT) – Harlan County, located in the southeastern corner of Kentucky, is home to the highest point in Kentucky, Black Mountain, and to some of the richest coalfields in the world. The population in 1940 was over 75,000, and today it is around 28,000 with one-third of those living below the poverty level.
On a mission trip to Harlan County in 2006, we learned that many students did not have food to eat on the weekends. Teachers noticed that students could not stay awake in class, especially on Mondays.
After talking with the students, it was learned that the students were hungry because they had little to no food on the weekend. Each school has a Family Resource Youth Service Center to aid the students and their families in meeting some of their basic needs.
Sacks of Love Ministry began working with these centers to provide weekend food bags. The food bags include non-perishable foods, which do not require refrigeration or cooking: beanie weenies, Vienna sausage, potted meat, small boxes of cereal, Pop-Tarts, cereal bars, fruit cups, applesauce, juice boxes, and powdered milk. Jars of peanut butter are given out once a month, when available, to schools that are not peanut-free. Some centers have food available during the week if there is a need. The centers are open during summer break, and students can get food then, also.
The majority of the food items distributed are purchased from the local Food City grocery store and are obtained by monetary donations from individuals, churches, and associations, among others. On occasion, food items are also donated. The food orders are delivered to each school as needed. Food bags are packed by students, local church groups, or mission teams.
Although our primary focus is providing weekend food, hygiene items, and school supplies are also collected and distributed to the school resource centers as needed. Upon receiving a new toothbrush, one girl was so excited that she did not now have to share a toothbrush with her sister.
To date, we are assisting eight centers with 400 students involved with the weekend food bags and many more benefiting from school supplies and hygiene items. The schools allow faith-based materials to be included in the food bags. Labels with Bible verses are attached to the jars of peanut butter.
Please keep the Resource Centers, the students, and their families in your prayers. Also, pray that finances will be available to meet the needs of those served. May they know that their needs are being met by God.
“If you give some food to feed those who are hungry and to satisfy the needs of those who are humble, then your light will rise in the dark, and your darkness will become as bright as the noonday sun.” (Isaiah 58:10 GWT)
Judy and Frankie Caulder are the directors of Kentucky Sacks of Love, a ministry to the poor in Harlan County. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 606-848-0092.
Article reprinted with permission by the authors and was initially published by Kentucky Today on June 7, 2018.
Pictures used in this article were taken by the authors and used with permission.