PRESBYTERY MISSION DOLLARS AT WORK
by David Wassung, Eastridge Presbyterian Church
The journey began in the spring of 2017 when Eastridge Church in Lincoln decided to look for a local mission opportunity. They approached a nearby Middle School offering to partner with them in a project that would benefit the children and families of the local community. Surprisingly, the principal of the school had a project in mind that she wanted to launch, but funding was not available. The project was called "Food Market". It brings in food from the Lincoln Food Bank once a month to provide a supplemental food source to the students. In order to qualify for the program, the majority school student population must be entitled to a free or reduced lunch program. This particular middle school qualified but was one of the only ones who didn't have the program. Eastridge, quickly agreed to form a partnership with Lefler Middle School based on financial and volunteer support for the "Food Market" program.
In order to raise funds for the startup of the "Food Market" program, they promoted the partnership with the congregation, assisted in writing grant requests and formed a subcommittee to manage the partnership with Lefler Middle School and the Food Bank of Lincoln.
By the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, enough funds were raised to start the "Food Market" at Lefler Middle School. The Homestead Presbytery (Congregational & Leadership Development) provided a $500 "seed" grant that played an important role in getting this project started. Although the total budget was $20,000 for the school year, each dollar played an important part in delivering the food to these students. In addition, they requested and received grants from local businesses and a generous donation from a Trust Fund at Eastridge.
The first year of the Food Market has been deemed a SUCCESS and is on track to continue in the 2018-19 school year. Here are some impressive statistics from the 2017-18 school year that just ended.
FOR THE 9 MONTH SCHOOL YEAR:
* food was provided to 1,717 students (average of 190 students /month) with a cumulative total of 8,102 family members (average of 900/month)
* Food Bank of Lincoln delivered 28,477 lbs total, including 8,291 lbs of produce.
* Eastridge Church provided 65 volunteer hours assisting with distribution of food to the students
The partnership with Lefler has been much more that providing food to needy students and their families. It has led to other opportunities for the students to interact with Eastridge in the way of School CLUB activities at the church Food Pantry, further participation from Eastridge Outreach supporting school needs and even more future possibilities.
Eastridge volunteers shared a comment heard recently from one of the students receiving food "Oh, now my parents will have some extra money to pay off some debts because they didn't have to buy us food" .
GOD provides for the needy in such wonderful ways. Little did we know what our journey was going to look like when we started.