A $5,000 Matthew 25 grant from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) enabled a small Mt. Vernon, Ill., congregation to provide weekend meals for 180 school children in need in the community this past school year.
“Thanks to the grant we were able to purchase food for three education sites – 180 bags a week for 25 weeks, equaling 4,500 bags for the school year,” said Gail Farnham, describing the “Brown Bag Friday Ministry” of First Baptist Church in Mount Vernon.
“The total cost for the food and fruit for the year was $9,418,” Farnham explains. “Without the grant we would only have been able to feed one-half the children we provided for in the program. We were responsible for purchasing the food, getting the needed numbers of all the items ready in a timely manner, then filling the 180 bags each week.”
Farnham explains that First Baptist Church is “a formerly large congregation with a current attendance each week of about 35. About one-third of our attendees are under age 35 with the remainder over age 65. Despite a declining attendance, we have remained committed to serving others. Feeding hungry children meets a crucial need and allows us to continue making a difference in our community.”
Farnham says the funds required for the Brown Bag Friday Ministry are not included in the congregation’s operating budget. “We’re so grateful for the grant,” Farnham says. “Because of it not only were we able to meet the need, we now have seed money to begin the next school year.”
“Throughout the school year we heard from teachers that having food over the weekends allows children to return to the classroom and perform better,” Farnham notes. “Thanks to the meals they are more alert and have a better attention span.”
The Matthew 25 Grant initiative, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.”
The Matthew 25 Grant process is structured to help small ministries with limited staff time. For more information on the Grant and application process visit: www.abc-usa.org/matthew25/