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Churches fight hunger, one sale at a time

 


Churches fight hunger, one sale at a time

 

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Members of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church held a bake sale to raise funds to fight hunger.
July 20, 2004                                                  

By Fran Coode Walsh*

United Methodist News Service

 

When United Methodist Linda Lehman read an article in Parade magazine about meal programs that sometimes didn’t have enough food to send some home with every child, she knew she had to do something to help.

So she talked to her fellow members at Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in Gardners, Pa., and committed to hold a “Great American Bake Sale,” a national effort of Parade magazine and Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization devoted to ending child hunger. This year, individuals, companies and faith groups were encouraged to host a bake sale any time between April 4 and July 25.

Last year’s “Great American Bake Sale” raised more than $1 million. The funds went to Share Our Strength, which used 75 percent for summer and after-school meal programs in the communities where the money was raised.

Nearly 7,000 teams, including 600 faith-based groups, registered to be part of the “Great American Bake Sale.” Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Ft. Wayne, Ind. hosted two bake sales, raising $650 at the first sale and $778.50 at the most recent one, held June 13. Food was either baked by members of the congregation or donated by local bakeries and businesses.

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Statesville, N. C., tried another approach. It hosted a “bakeless bake sale, good for low-carb diets” July 4.  Participants were encouraged to write a check for the time, ingredients and items they might have purchased, and send in the total as a donation.

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Jessie Starner's church, Mt. Tabor United Methodist, raised $250 at their "Great American Bake Sale."
The Mount Tabor church hosted a July 2 sale at a bank in York Springs, Pa., and raised $250. Lehman believes a small effort can make a big difference. “If every church in this country would hold one bake sale each year, we wouldn’t be dealing with hunger problems,” she says.

York Springs is near Harrisburg, Pa., which has dozens of feeding sites that benefit from proceeds of the “Great American Bake Sale.” David Lloyd, with the Harrisburg School District, says 1,800 children depend on the daily lunches.

Lloyd feels the meals are essential: “What we see here with most of our students is the lunch they get today will probably be the only meal they get until lunchtime tomorrow.” And the need is growing. Ten years ago, Harrisburg had only 20 feeding sites. Today there are 36, he said.

Sue Mitchem, with the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center, credits the “Great American Bake Sale” campaign for bringing attention and funds to this serious problem.

“The need is great. Children are depending on school meals for their nutrition and, when summer comes, those meals dry up. That’s why the government has summer programs and why it’s good to get kids involved,” she said.   There is also a shortage of summer food service programs, especially in rural areas, and Mitchem hopes groups will continue to support policies to end hunger in America.

 “This effort is so important, and every small group -- soccer team, church ladies’ or men’s organization -- can host a bake sale and bring in $200 or more,” she said. “If you put all these together, it makes a large amount of money, and a lot of children are helped. …One person can make a difference.  Every one of us is capable of ending hunger in the U.S. if we all work together.”

For more information, check the Web site at www.greatamericanbakesale.org or call (800) 761-4227.

 

*Walsh is coordinating producer of UMTV, a unit of United Methodist News Service.

News media contact Fran Coode Walsh at (615) 742-5470, or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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