Church organizing food program for kids

? Financial support key for summer launch.

Trinity Mennonite Church has decided that feeding the hungry should begin with the children living in the Hillsboro area this summer.

The congregation has taken on the goal of organizing a community-wide ?Summer Food 4 Kids? program from May 25 through Aug. 14.

?There are over 200 children in the Hillsboro school district who are on free and reduced lunches at school,? said pastor Norma Duerk?sen. ?These children may be facing food insecurity during the summer.

?When a guardian of a child has to choose between food and other necessities, such as electricity, it is an indicator of food insecurity,? she added. ?They may not be getting sufficient food to stay healthy.?

The ?Summer Food 4 Kids? program in Hillsboro is similar to the one being launched this summer in the Marion community.

In Hillsboro, the Kansas Food Bank out of Wichita will provide food to the location at Trinity Church. Every weekday, the church will open the main-entrance doors at noon. Food distribution will last until to 1 p.m.

As children enter the church?s fellowship hall, each one will receive a prepackaged meal that will be consumed within the church to ensure that each participant has a good meal, according to Duerksen.

Once the meal is finished, children will put their trah in the lunch sack and deposit it into trash barrels provided.

Following cleanup, each child will receive a free day-pass to the nearby Hillsboro Family Aquatic Center, courtesy of the city. The pass will bear the child?s name and is good only for the day it is issued.

Food is not free

A major difference between the Hillsboro program and Marion?s is that the food is not free because Hillsboro?s percentage of qualifying children within the school district is below the 50 percent minimum.

?This food will need to be self-funded by churches, organizations and businesses in Hillsboro,? Duerk?sen said.

She said the cost will be $2.60 per child, per day. With a goal of 25 children participating, the food cost for the summer would be $3,900.

Each pool pass will cost $2, thanks to a subsidy from the city. For 25 children over 60 days, the cost for passes will be $3,000. The total cost of the program is projected to be $7,500 with janitorial service and air-conditioning included.

Trinity members have already raised $2,000 through their Wednesday evening meals program; and the city?s subsidy of the passes raises committed revenue to $3,500.

Duerksen and the church are asking for individuals, families, churches and businesses to consider contributing to the effort.

Duerksen said the cost of supporting a child for one day is $4.60; for a week, $23; for a month, $92; and for the entire summer, $276.

Checks can be written to Trinity Summer Food 4 Kids and sent to the church at 211 Elm St., Hillsboro, KS 67063.

Residents can also volunteer to help serve a week of meals.

For more information, contact Duerksen at 620-947-3824.