Loving Gig Harbor: Food Backpacks 4 Kids

Loving Gig Harbor: Food Backpacks 4 Kids

If you pour yourself out for the hungry

and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

and your gloom be as the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10

Feeding Body and Soul

This week, God reminded us of his abundance and of the beauty that emerges when his people give in response to his good gifts. God used you to feed 20 students, their siblings, and their parents for ten days in these past two weeks when you reached beyond these walls and donated more than 1,588 pounds of food for Food Backpacks 4 Kids. He worked through you again when you stepped up to volunteer your time and your hands to serve the Peninsula School District’s Summer Reading Program.

But better than the statistics are the stories. God built community in cooperation with FB4K. Volunteers from within and without Chapel Hill—of all ages and all church affiliations—donned aprons and joined oven mitts to cook hot lunches for fellow community members. God connected people of different backgrounds to work side by side. We witnessed the beauty of intergenerational cooperation—high school students, professionals, and retired individuals, each contributing their unique gifts and perspectives to glorify God in this mission.

Ryan, a local high school student, lit up when asked about working alongside Food Backpacks 4 Kids. “I loved that the people who set it up put their whole selves into it,” he said. When he arrived at the school to serve lunch, he relished the opportunity to interact with the “joyful, crazy kids.” He said, “I don’t have any younger siblings, and I don’t often get to interact with younger kids, but I could relate to these kids. We ran around and played tag.”

Su Hubbard, the Summer Reading Program’s meal coordinator and Chapel Hill member, used the two-week hot lunch program as an opportunity to introduce kids to a variety of dining styles, from buffet to family style. She also introduced new flavors into classic dishes, like albacore tuna in macaroni and cheese, impressing parents of picky-eaters. Her goal was to encourage the kids to try one bite of everything—after all, they just might discover a new favorite!

8 Years Together

Chapel Hill’s partnership with Food Backpacks 4 Kids dates back to 2009, when two Chapel Hill members recognized that many Gig Harbor-area children arrived to school hungry and unable to focus on Monday mornings. They gathered volunteers, collected food, and provided schools with a weekend food bag for any child who felt the need to take one.

Judy Kuehn, a Chapel Hill member actively involved in the founding of FB4K, spoke of a mother whose son refused to eat, because he felt unable to contribute to his family’s needs on the weekend. The food backpacks, however, empowered him to bring meals home to his family and to participate in the care of his home.

Artondale Elementary’s school counselor, Maureen Mathews, expressed overwhelming gratitude for FB4K’s service to her students. In fact, the food works beyond the weekends. “Often, kids who are upset will be sent to my office, and I find out that they’re hungry or didn’t get enough breakfast. I’m able to use some of the food donations to help them focus on school. Other times, teachers will tell me that they notice certain children don’t have snacks at snack time. I can put a granola bar or applesauce discreetly in their cubby, so they know they, too, can have a snack.”

Maureen beamed when she told of how excited the kids are to see what’s inside their weekend backpacks or bags. One child told her how his sister’s birthday was the previous day, and for dinner, his family made pancakes in fun shapes using a box of pancake mix from his food backpack.

And the ministry extends beyond children and schools. It serves its volunteers, too. People of all backgrounds—religious affiliations, school districts, financial status—are bound together by their common love of kids. It’s an opportunity for people to engage with one another and build community, and it’s a chance for Christians to demonstrate the love of Christ in action.

Julie Hawkins, Chapel Hill’s Missions Director, explains that FB4K reminds us that God gives abundantly. Our ability to buy an extra box of cereal and a jar of spaghetti sauce is a reminder of his extraordinary provision in our own lives. It’s an opportunity to love our Gig Harbor neighbors.

Moving Forward

If you wish you could have participated in the summer hot lunch program, you’re not too late. Food Backpacks 4 Kids operates year round to provide weekend food supplies to kids throughout Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula. Here are three ways you can help:

  1. Donate food! Grab a green bag from the Connect Center and throw a few extra non-perishable items in your cart next time you grab groceries. Bring your items in the green bag back to the Connect Center, and we’ll take it from there!
  2. Pack backpacks. Contact Judy Kuehn to assemble food backpacks or help deliver food bags to the schools.
  3. Pray! Pray for a heart of compassion in your own life. Pray for the families this food will reach and that they would know that Lord provides for them out of his abundance. Pray for the conversations that will take place around the dinner table.

Thank you, Chapel Hill! You have once again reached
beyond our walls and demonstrated your love for Gig Harbor.