On Faith

Church, schools team up to feed hungry kids

June 25, 2013 

The Varsity Church of Chapel Hill, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are teaming up to provide lunches to kids during the summer when school is out of session.

An estimated one in four Chapel Hill and Carrboro children may not have enough food this summer, based on subsidized school lunch enrollment. As classes ended, many families were wondering where their meals would come, said Chad Simpkins, pastor at Varsity Church, who has led his congregation in becoming involved.

Liz Cartano, director of dining for the school system, said: “As summer approaches we will have many families struggling to find a way to continue feeding their children a healthy meal each day. We cannot forget about these students during the summer months.”

Locally, the school system provides the lunches and church helps distribute them at four local sites.

“It blows my mind to realize there are over 1,700 elementary aged children who are on free and reduced meals in our schools,” Simpkins said. “That means we have a big food insecurity problem in this community.”

The church currently work with TABLE in helping to feed children on the weekends at Seawell Elementary School.

“But we began to ask, where is food coming from during the summer?” Simpkins said. “Tamara Baker, project director of No Kid Hungry NC, connected us with the school system’s program. Volunteering to pick up these healthy meals and then feeding the lunches to our community’s children was a no brainer for us. It fits the heartbeat of our church!”

The program will reach about 200 children this summer. Varsity Church will is hosting sites at Airport Gardens, Dobbins Hill, South Estes and Timberlyne Apartments. The program began Monday and runs through Aug. 9. Food is delivered every day, Monday to Friday. There is also a group of high school women who are hosting a site for the Carolina Apartments in Carrboro.

The church needs volunteers at the sites. Anyone willing to help over the course of the summer should send a request to feedthekids@varsitychurch.com. The church will respond with further information and details about the program and the sign-up sites.

Books are another part of this summer program. Children can eat a healthy meal and then get a good book to take home. Anyone who would like to donate books or make a monetary gift to buy books should contact Varsity Church at feedthekids@varsitychurch.com.

Solstice celebration

Summer crept in quietly for most of us last Friday as we enjoyed the longest day of light and the beautiful accompanying weather here in North Carolina.

To mark the Solstice, Unity Center of Peace held what it hopes to make an annual Summer Solstice celebration. The event also marked the inauguration of the center’s Serenity Path walking and meditation trail. A special Native American blessing ceremony was held around the newly completed Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel has been used by generations of indigenous people as a means of teaching, meditation, prayer, healing and celebration.

“The intention behind the Serenity Path is to offer the local community a spiritual resource that they can take advantage of for activities such as prayer, meditation, serenity and calming,” said UCP co-minister the Rev. Rosemary Hyde. “The Summer Solstice celebration will help us honor Mother Earth, release what is no longer serving us, and embrace the gifts the sun offers us,” said Rev. Victoria Loveland-Coen, co-minister.

Unity Center of Peace, located at 8800 Seawell School Road in Chapel Hill, is part of the New Thought movement that embraces a positive path for spiritual living, said Jean Fisher, a member.

“We come together to center in Spirit, connect with other positive-minded people and to celebrate life. We are also a LGBT-friendly community,” she said.

For more information about the celebration or its Serenity Path, visit unitychapelhill.org or call 919-968-1854.

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