Archive for Friday, January 9, 2015

Pastor’s corner: All in to fight local hunger

Tonganoxie United Methodist Church's Jeff Clinger.

Tonganoxie United Methodist Church's Jeff Clinger.

January 9, 2015

There doesn’t seem to be much on which we all agree. We are Jayhawks or Wildcats or Tigers. We are Mac or PC. We are Republican or Democrat. We apply these labels, even in subtle and subconscious ways, to define who we are and where we belong. These labels, and our beliefs around them, often separate and divide.

I have, however, identified something on which I think we can nearly universally agree. In fact, I have yet to find anyone who will disagree with this simple statement — children should not go hungry.

During recent months I have increasingly become aware of the ways in which hunger impacts kids’ ability to focus at school and to learn. At the same time I have become increasingly aware of the number of hungry kids in Tonganoxie.

I believe children should not go hungry.

I believe we as a community can do something about this.

Several years ago at Tonganoxie Elementary School, then-counselor Connie Weltha started a program to send food home with hungry students for weekends. Katie Welsh, TES’ current counselor, has continued the program. This fall it was providing food for as many as 50 students a week.

Providing this food to kids each week requires people to donate food, sort through the donated food (removing items such as pickled herring and expired food that can’t be distributed), pack the food and distribute the food. A good amount of Welsh’s time and energy is used coordinating the logistics of all of the above.

In early December, several of us from Tonganoxie visited with representatives from the Backpack Buddies program in the Leavenworth schools. Conversation has now started regarding how we here in Tonganoxie might work to implement a model more like the one in Leavenworth to take care of the hungry youths in our community. The hope is to gather representatives from the community this winter, formalize plans through the spring and the summer and implement this new model with the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

Do you agree with me that children should not go hungry? Do you agree that we as a community can do something about this? Are you willing to be a part of the conversation through 2015?

Please email me at jeff@tonganoxieumc.org to be included in the conversations and to help ensure that no children in our community go hungry.

— Clinger is pastor at Tonganoxie United Methodist Church, 328 E. Fourth St, Tonganoxie; 913-845-2814.

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