Feed My Sheep: John 21:15
In 1994, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts became a sponsor for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally funded child nutrition program whose goal is to feed food insecure children and teens ages 1-18 during the summer months when they do not have access to school meals. For 8 weeks each summer, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Wilbraham, Mass., prepares and delivers over 1,500 meals per day to children in Greater Springfield. In 2012, in the neighboring Diocese of Massachusetts, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit – Orleans (CHS) said, “Yes!” to sponsoring the SFSP for eight towns on Cape Cod. They now serve over 700 meals a day in the summer.
The experience of both churches demonstrates that the SFSP alleviates immediate hunger, while teaching about the social justice issue of hunger in America. It also provides summer jobs (especially for young people), engages volunteers of all ages, and builds valuable connections to the local community.
But the SFSP is greatly underutilized. Nationwide, only 17% of the children who qualify for free/reduced lunch have access to a summer meal site. Our communities need more sponsors and meal sites, not only where hunger and poverty are obvious, but also where they are hidden, like here on Cape Cod, where one in three residential children (10,000 children) is food insecure. In the summer of 2015, only 1,500 children were served daily on Cape Cod by the 3 different sponsors. In response, Episcopal City Mission in Boston has stepped up to fund an outreach effort at CHS to mentor new sponsors on Cape Cod and beyond in our diocese. St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Barnstable is first up. They will serve 100 children at 3 new sites in greater Hyannis this summer!
We want to share what we’ve learned with the wider Episcopal Church. Please call us for information on how your congregation or Diocese can become an SFSP sponsor or meal site. When partnered with faith-based organizations who understand hungry children as a social justice issue, the program works and expands. Congregations are community-based, they know where the children are, and they are already working to solve local and systemic injustices.
For more information, please contact:
Ruth W. Campbell
Director, Food 4 Kids
Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
204 Monument Rd. Orleans, Cape Cod, MA 02653