Community United Methodist Church
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The Sheridan Story: Helping Hungry Kids
The Sheridan Story provides the logistical, sourcing, and organizational expertise necessary to execute the process of providing a weekend food supply. The Sheridan Story facilitates a partnership between community organizations such as churches and schools. The church sponsors a school, which encompasses investing in the relationship with the school and also paying for, packing, and distributing food directly to the children.
The Sheridan Story began in 2010 when the school administration at our namesake, Sheridan Elementary School, discovered that students were stealing and hoarding food on Fridays so that they would have something to eat on the weekends. After learning of this need, The Sheridan Story was launched as a project of Mill City Church:
“In our first month in Fall of 2010, we provided a bag of non-perishable food each weekend to 27 students. Two years later we were able to open the program to all students at Sheridan School reaching over 300 students. Spring of 2013 brought our first expansion into another school, Delano Elementary, increasing our impact to some 350 children. As we launched our second program in Delano Elementary, we began also developing a larger growth strategy. How can we reach the children living in food insecurity who go to other schools in the Twin Cities? What emerged is our network model of weekend food programs.”
The Sheridan Project coordinates the sourcing of the food. The food is then bagged and put in bins to be delivered to the schools. Volunteers from local churches and other organizations then distribute the food in the schools.
There is an effort to expand the Sheridan Project to Columbia Heights Public Schools. In May, a pilot project was launched at Highland Elementary School. Letters were sent home to all K-3rd graders explaining the program and asking the parents to sign up if they had food insecurity. Over 80 kids are enrolled in the program. Churches were asked to send representatives to a training session and then to provide volunteers to put the food bags in the kids backpacks. This is done discreetly when the kids are out of the room.
The bags of food are filled with 4 - 5 pounds of shelf-stable food. Each of our bags of food contains fruit and vegetables and provides nutritious, substantive meals for kids to eat at home. A sample bag includes the following items: a can of pears, a bag of rice, a can of green beans, a can of tuna, a bag of pasta, and a can of chicken noodle soup.
HOW IS CUMC PARTICIPATING?
Nearly 90% of the students in Heights schools qualify for reduced or free lunches. In October, Highland and Valley View Elementary students who have severe food insecurity at home will be able to receive food for the weekend because of the efforts of five Columbia Heights churches, including Community UMC. The number of students that can be served is directly proportional to the secured funding. The current plan is to provide approximately 50 meals at each school each week.
CUMC is working with the other Columbia Heights Churches and the Police Department to implement the food distribution program in both Valley View and Highland Elementary School for the 2015-2016 school year.
To ensure that the program continues and can grow to meet the full need, ongoing funding is needed. Service organizations and businesses are being asked to contribute and fundraisers are being planned.
UMCOR Supply Lists: Download Here or see below:
MN Food Share Month
Each March, Minnesota FoodShare directs the March Campaign, the largest food drive in the state and restocks almost 300 food shelves across Minnesota. It recruits thousands of congregations, companies, schools and community groups to run local fund and food drives to aid in the effort.
S.A.C.A. is our local food shelf. The first Sunday of each month is food shelf Sunday where we are encouraged to bring food donations and make monetary donations to S.A.C.A. School supplies are collected in the fall and Christmas gifts for children are collected in November and December. The director of S.A.C.A. is also a long time member of our congregation.
In 2008, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church voted to raise 75 million dollars in a partnership to save lives from Malaria-related deaths in Africa. Imagine No Malaria is the results. Each annual conference has been assessed a goal and our goal is 180,000 lives at 1.8 million. A generous donor kicked off the campaign with a $600,000 challenge grant. As of May 30, 2012 Minnesota United Methodists have committed $2,508,567 in pledges and donations. That's $708,567 over our goal!