We are called to “proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ; to seek and serve Christ in all persons; to respect the dignity of every human being.”
This call to mission was expressed and lived out by a group of 11 people as they prepared 126 meals for the local elementary school on a recent Saturday morning in Onoway. Seven youth and four adults gathered to cut, chop, sauté, mix ingredients and cook hamburger soup and chicken and rice casserole for anyone in need of a school lunch. To fill a need caused by a downturn in the economy or sometimes due to absentmindedness, St. John’s has been providing lunch items, in various forms, for more than 10 years. These items have ranged from instant porridge, granola bars, pudding cups, fruit cups, to individual macaroni and cheese or individual ravioli. All has been lovingly donated monthly by various parishioners.
During the fall of 2018, we noticed that the need for lunches had virtually doubled. Through prayer and discussions, we felt that the Lord might be calling St. John’s in another direction with regards to these lunch provisions. We thought that we might be able to offer something more economical, healthier and environmentally friendlier. During a meeting with school staff, we asked what they might need and we offered some suggestions of our own. Together, we agreed that St. John’s might be able to provide home-cooked meals if the school had space to store them and a means of reheating the meals. They were excited and thrilled at the prospect of home-cooked meals for the students in need. Each classroom had a microwave and there were a number of freezers in the school to keep the meals! With the help of our Reach money, St. John’s began, in March 2019, to provide between 80-100 home-cooked meals every month to the school.
We deliver the frozen meals, which cost under $2 each to prepare, in 10 oz. reusable, dishwasher safe and microwavable containers along with reusable utensils. The school distributes the meals and cleans the containers. We collect the empty containers once a month and refill. Through continuous contact with the school we are advised of what is working and what is not. We also provide fresh fruit and granola bars every week.
Each month, with a break over the summer holidays, we have anywhere from 3 to 12 volunteers doing the preparation, cooking and packaging. Everyone has a great time. The recent Saturday was the first time the youth had come to help. They had such a great time; they want to come and do it again. This was a great way to involve our youth and we thank the Lord profoundly for the opportunity!
We believe the Lord has brought St. John’s to this time and place. Many are surprised to hear that we are providing so many lunches for such a small school. Many ask the usual insensitive questions as to why. As followers of our Christ, we do not have to ask ‘why?’ We have recognized the need, the reason does not matter. We are called by our baptismal covenant “to proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ; to seek and serve Christ in all persons; to respect the dignity of every human being.” We are living our baptismal covenant at St. John’s! Thanks be to God in Christ!
Submitted by the Rev. Cheryl Boulet, St. John the Divine, Onoway
Photos by Bishop Jane