The began its summer meal program this week, and organizers say the need is high.
Typically, the summer months are times when children who may have gotten free or reduced meals at school do not have those same opportunities. So, the ministry is trying to fill the gap with its "Summer Manna" program.
"Last summer, we gave out 10,000 lunches, and we're planning that will proably be the number that we will give out this year," said Ivy Hudson, pantry manager at the ministry.
The program operates all summer long, except the fourth of July, as a way to feed children in the Snellville, Grayson and Loganville areas of Gwinnett County. Bags are pre-packed, and then driven to neighborhoods where the ministry has deemed to have a great need.
"The number is "growing every day as more kids become more aware of us," Hudson said.
This year, unlike last year, the group is adding breakfast foods to the mix. Organizers also are working without a partner, so the ministry is more able to give out information about its programs and mission to serve God.
Taking their cue from Psalms 78:24, Hudson said "just as Jesus provided the manna dailies for his people, we are providing daily food for the children."
Despite the increase in the number of hungry children in the summer months, and thus their families, supplies are low, Hudson added. Donations are needed, and so are volunteers.
"It appears that everybody goes on vacation and forgets that the rest of the world is hungry," Hudson said, "so donations are drastically reduced in the summer."
The ministry looks to the surrounding community to help them help others. But, come what may, the tiny staff at Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry and its volunteers, are certain they are doing something special -- leading with a servant's heart.
How you can help?
For more information on volunteering or donating items, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the hotline at 678-670-3803. Volunteers are needed to pack bags and to drive items to neighborhoods. Donations can be dropped off at the ministry, , or at the Heritage Hall Building between Civic Drive and on Highway 78 in Snellville. The Heritage Hall location is open 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Monday - Friday.
What's in the "Summer Manna" bag? (These are items that are needed. See attached PDF, as well.)
- 1 individual pre-packaged cereal
- 1 boxed shelf milk (non-refrigerated)
- 1 fruit cup, or applesauce
- 1 juice box, or pouch
- 1 granola bar
- 1 package of crackers with peanut butter or cheese or a package of pretzels/bread sticks with peanut butter or cheese
- 1 Jello or pudding cup (non-refrigerated) or fruit snacks (gummy)
- 1 individual pre-packaged bag of pretzels or chips
Daily Specials: (Bring separate from any bags personally packed.)
- Monday -- Peanut butter and jelly "Uncrustables" (These come frozen and individually wrapped.)
- Tuesday -- String cheese
- Wednesday -- small "Lunchable"
- Thursday -- "Gogurt" (yogurt) and "Slim Jim"
- Friday -- Tuna or chicken salad ready-to-eat packs