In Spring 2017, we invited American Baptists from across the country to share their Transformation Stories – this is a part of the Transformed by the Spirit initiative. Videos and written stories are included as provided by local churches and American Baptists. Want to share your story? Submit written and video submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. View the full list of Transformation Stories here.
Transformation Story: Transforming Lives by Relieving Hunger – Second Calvary Baptist Church, Columbia, SC
Second Calvary Baptist Church (Second Calvary) is located in the 29203 zip code of Columbia, South Carolina. According to the 2010 US Census, 82.2% of students in zip code 29203 public schools receive or are eligible to participate in free or reduced lunch programs. For many of these students, school meals may be the only time they eat. Second Calvary and the James M. Hinton Foundation (Foundation) collaborate to help fill this nutritional gap through the Sacks of Love Program.
The Sacks of Love Program seeks to relieve hunger among students by providing bags of nutritious, non-perishable food for students to carry home and consume on the weekend during the school year. The program started with us serving 20 students at Alcorn Middle School. We have now grown to serving 40 students at Alcorn Middle School and 20 students at Arden Elementary. The food provided to the 60 students equals to approximately 15,000 meals per year. Ensuring that students are nourished during the weekends increases the likelihood that they will study, complete assignments, and be better prepared to learn upon returning to school.
The Sacks of Love Program demonstrates how the pastor, ministers, staff, and members of Second Calvary are engaged in connecting with God, one another, and the community. For example, members of the Second Calvary Exercise Club take time to meet the nutritional needs of at-risk students before attending to their own physical needs through exercise.
Each week, prior to exercising, members of the exercise club pack the sacks of love. A typical “sack of love” includes items such as milk, juice, green beans, crackers, beef stew, macaroni, applesauce, soup, snack bars and fruit. The items provided vary from month to month.
Other persons take turns delivering the sacks of love to the schools for distribution to the students. These deliverers include three married couples. The couples see this program as an opportunity to spend time together while positively impacting the lives of others.
David and Jackie Mozie, shown in picture on left, have delivered the sacks of love since the program’s inception. When asked to comment on why they participate in the program David and Jackie said, “It is a pleasure for us to deliver the Sacks of Love to the children, it is even more enjoyable to know how much the kids appreciate and look forward to their spiritual gift.”
The comments below from school officials and parents show how the Sacks of Love Program has positively impacted the students and their families.
Social worker at Alcorn Middle School:
“As a social worker, I can’t begin to discuss the impact of healthy eating and school preparedness. The correlation is unfathomable…”
Former principal of Alcorn Middle School:
“The Sacks of Love Program has been a tremendous support for our students. There are so many students who are not able to partake of nutritious meals on the weekends. Those who receive meals through the program excitedly await the meals on Fridays when they are distributed. Research states that children who eat balanced meals regularly tend to perform better academically and socially. The Sacks of Love Program supports that research heavily.”
“…I can depend on the weekend backpack to help me and my kids make it through.”
“I am so thankful to be able to get an extra hand from the school.”
“Since (redacted) started receiving the weekend snack pack, I can rest assured that they will have a nutritious meal over the course of the weekend…Thank you for starting this program.”
“We know that we can always depend on Friday to help us get through the weekend.”
Because hunger doesn’t take a vacation, Second Calvary and the Foundation also collaborated to host a summer feeding program in 2016. Children were transported to the program site each week day for six weeks. During the week attendees received a meal on site and engaged in entertaining activities. Each Friday, the children received a sack of love containing food for consumption on the weekend. The children also received a book to read. At the end of the program, the children received a backpack and school supplies for the upcoming school term.
The Sacks of Love Program exemplifies the principles of Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”