REFLECTION FROM PASTOR MADELINE BAUM: First United Methodist Church of Boca Raton began hosting a Dinner Church at Coral Sunset Elementary school in West Boca at the beginning of 2019. Pastor Rachel DeLaune headed up that team. They established a partnership with the school and hosted Dinner Church two Sundays per month. Of course, when the pandemic hit, dinner church was temporarily shut down. Shortly after the stay-at- home orders were issued the team began delivering meals to a few of the core Dinner Church families once per month in order to keep connected and provide a meal. This summer, Pastor Rachel was appointed to a church in Central Florida and I was appointed to FUMC Boca Raton as the Associate Pastor in July of 2020. Along with the team I continued to deliver to those core families for the first few months I was in Boca Raton.
In September we decided that we would try something different in October. We contacted everyone who had ever attended Dinner Church, Coral Sunset Elementary School distributed a flyer to all their families and we held our first Drive-Thru Dinner Church on our West Campus on October 25, 2020. We knew there were a lot of families struggling to make ends meet and we wanted to help. We also wanted to be sharing the Gospel and making disciples, so for October we handed out an individual Pollo Tropical chicken dinner for each person, family devotional materials and a Halloween bucket with candy and craft kits for each child. We served 23 families (127 people).
In November we moved back to the Coral Sunset Elementary School property. The school handed out flyers and our attendance grew. The team agreed that we were not ready to go back to an in-person format, so we agreed to continue the Drive-Thru format. We decided to hand out a Thanksgiving dinner in a bag. We asked for donations from our congregation of specific Thanksgiving non-perishable food items and $25 Publix gift cards which we loaded into canvas Publix bags. We continued handing our devotional materials and fun activities for the kids. We served 40 families (about 160 people) in November at Drive-Thru Dinner Church.
For December, we wanted to do something special for Christmas. The church had taken a special collection last year for Coral Sunset families so we had some extra money to spend. The school not only handed out flyers, they included our event in their email and text communications to families and began to refer to us as their “business partner”. Our registration exploded! By Friday before the event, we had over 300 people registered. So, on Sunday December 13, 2020 we served 300 Pollo Tropical meals to 62 families! We handed out a bag of treats to each child, family devotional materials for the month and a $35 gift card to Walmart! This month we also added a prayer station where almost every car stopped for prayer! We insist that all team members wear masks and wear them correctly. We wear gloves and change them often, sanitizing our hands in-between. We made sure that anyone stopping for prayer was wearing a mask to protect our pastors. We always follow CDC guidelines and in the midst of all of this, our team has been so blessed to help share the love of Christ with these families.
We plan to continue Drive-Thru Dinner Church until it is safe to be back together again face-to-face. We will continue to stay connected to all of these families in-between our events through email and phone calls. We have had a number of people who have attended Drive-Thru Dinner Church ask how they can get involved and help. Now that’s discipleship! When it is time for us to be back together again, we will invite all who have attended our Drive-Thru events. We hope that many of them will continue to join us.
I must say that none of this would have been possible without an amazing group of people who discerned God’s call on this church to start a dinner church a few years ago. They faithfully laid the foundation and sowed the seeds of God’s will. Pastor Rachel and the Dinner Church team are some incredibly faithful and dedicated people. The team continues to work hard today in this very difficult time. They have been flexible and adjusted by asking “what can we do to make this happen” instead of dwelling on the obstacles. I am very blessed to be a part of this team filled with servant hearts! I pray that God will continue giving us the opportunity to serve those in need and equip us for that call.
On Monday, December 7, Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande presented Harry Chapin Food Bank with a check for $20,500. Barbara Evans, Chief Development Officer, received the check from Missions Committee Member Jane Caple. The church is responding to the increased pressure Harry Chapin is experiencing to feed more people and having to purchase food in bulk.
Thanks to our wonderful church family and food pantry volunteers, we were able to provide Thanksgiving meals to 526 families! We have a tremendous core group of volunteers who worked extremely hard to make this happen as well as the financial support from numerous individuals, the JoyFM, and the many prayers answered to make this a reality. The JoyFM held a “T-Shirts for Turkey Drive” on November 10th and Spring Life Church was chosen as the recipient of the equivalent of over 70 turkeys/gift cards obtained through their drive. We wish to thank everyone who participated for allowing this to be such a successful blessing to the needy in our community. It was ‘soul gratifying’ to receive so many thanks from the grateful families and individuals receiving a full Thanksgiving dinner and turkey/gift card that they who otherwise have not been able to afford. Truly a blessing.
Join us for the month of November and take on the #HungerAwarenessChallenge. Each day has an action step you can take to learn more about food insecurity and get involved! Download and share!
Have you ever heard of SNAP? Do you know someone on Food Stamps but you don’t know what that means? Are you or your church interested learning how to leverage your food pantry to serve more people? Watch this webinar hosted by Emily Autry and Alejandra Salemi, MPH, with all the information you need about SNAP, ways to help your food pantry customers gain access to SNAP benefits and so much more!
October 1, 2020 at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Register by Sept. 28!
This nation-wide virtual event on Ending Hunger is designed to 1) reframe lack of access to adequate and affordable food in ways which lead to understanding the actual root causes, and 2) equip participants with tools to design community-based food systems through an asset-based approaches to utilize land, organize communities and advancing food and economic sovereignty.
The October 1 virtual event is followed by 4 subsequent workshops from October 8 to 29 on the nuts and bolts of starting community-based micro-farms and building a network of communities. This event is sponsored by Bread for the World, Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
Click here to register.
Farmers feed the world. And when farmers struggle, so do our food systems. As farmers from the United States to West Africa struggle to adapt to the reality of climate change, global hunger is on the rise. We must understand their common challenges if we want to end hunger.
To commemorate Climate Week 2020, join Bread for the World Institute on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 11 a.m. (ET) for an hour-long conversation on how climate change affects global food systems and the changes needed to address the impact of climate change. The conversation will feature perspectives from farmers in Iowa and West Africa.
This international panel, moderated by Todd Post, senior researcher, writer, and editor at Bread for the World Institute, will feature these experts on climate change and food systems:
Please register for the webinar even if you are unable to attend at the scheduled time. This ensures you will receive the recording and follow-up information. Building climate-resilient food systems is critical to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger and malnutrition. We hope you will attend this critical conversation inspired by The 2020 Hunger Report: Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow.
We must give schools and child nutrition program sponsors the flexibility needed to provide meals under rapidly evolving circumstances. Join us, along with the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Feeding America, the School Nutrition Association, and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to extend critical nationwide child nutrition program waivers through the coming school year so we can feed children.
Click the button below and add your organization to the letter by Monday, August 10 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.