Got hungry kids from single parent families in your church?



Recently Dale Hudson posted on his Relevant Ministry blog, “Three Meals a Day.. for Kids at School?” It was a post about how the government has piloted a program for feeding lower income children three meals a day at school. I don’t want to debate this issue as you can do that on Dale’s post. However, his post got me to thinking about children in divorcing and single parent families in our churches and communities who are hungry.

We know from research that children who are hungry don’t do well in school. I also know from personal experience that kids who are hungry don’t do well in learning at church either. They don’t connect with God or church families when their tummies are growling and they might be weak from hunger.

I wanted to share some of what I said on Dale’s post plus share even more of what churches could do in this area.

The idea of hungry children in our churches and in our communities was not on my radar until I became a single mom. There were a couple of years that I struggled feeding my own children. That is when it became real to me! My hope is that is becomes real to you through this blog post.

Here are some ideas for churches 

  • Food pantries or food distribution programs

Currently my church has a food pantry. The main contributors for the food pantry are several of our Sunday morning small groups. Our DivorceCare and Single & Parenting group along with our single parent class also supports this endeavor by contributing to it when they can.

Our participants in these classes along with people in our community have access to it when needed. We keep staples in the food pantry.

  • Backpack Buddies

Churches fill backpacks with foods that are shelf-stable. These backpacks are taken to a local school each Friday where the children from needy families take them home for the weekend. Each Monday the backpacks are returned to the school where church volunteers pick them up and start the process all over again.

The backpack program has local elementary school teachers or school counselors identify children who are at risk of being hungry over the weekend.

  • Free midweek meals

At a church in Oklahoma, we had a midweek evening meal. We opened the midweek meal to single parents in our church where they could eat free. After the meal any left over food was boxed up and the single parents could take the food home.

I loved this endeavor because this meant a single parent family got to co-mingle with other families in the church. This gave the single parent an opportunity to share their lives with church members. They felt like part of the church community and it opened the eyes to church members who began to not only contribute but they began to pray for these single parent families also.

I know another of several churches that feed a free hot meal to their DivorceCare participants and their children. These are meals that are prepared by real chefs and are nutritious and usually something a single dad or mom wouldn’t have the time or the budget to fix on their own.

  • Free holiday meals

Many churches serve free holiday meals for people in their communities. Perhaps targeting the single parents could be incorporated in these endeavors.

  • Other churches provide the necessary items such as a turkey and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal.
  • Food buying clubs

There are some churches that actually provide “food buying clubs.” These clubs provide good, nutritious products at reduced cost through a usually volunteer-run, community-based distribution system. Orders are taken online and dates set up where people can pick up their food items. This is a great idea for the rushed single mom.

  • Mobil food pantry

These food programs use volunteers that hand out fresh and perishable goods that aren’t typically available at area food pantries. These include such items as bread, milk, eggs, fruits and fresh vegetables.

These are just a few of the things churches I’ve been apart of have done. There are many more things that can be done. If you Google something such as “food programs through local churches” you will see many more ideas.

One word of caution, please be careful not to take away the single parent’s dignity. For myself it was hard to ask for help. That’s why in my church we provide a way for the single parents to give back when they can. We keep a list of items they can donate to our food pantry in our DivorceCare and single parent class when they are at a point where they are able. It is not a requirement but many do take the opportunity to provide food for others.

What is your church doing to feed the single parent families in your church?



4 thoughts on “Got hungry kids from single parent families in your church?

  1. Food for the children at the DC4K session is available as soon as they walk in the door. For this session there is water and fruit bars. (These kids have eaten something before they come) Other times we have children who have not eaten since lunch which was 6 hours ago. For the food time we have fresh fruit with water. When the children leave we give them each to prepare food for them. It is a complete meal. Thank you for other ideas.

  2. Um keep in mind there are kids with both parents who are hungry and not all single parents are struggling to put food on the table

    • Paul, yes I know there are two-parent families that struggling feeding their kids but the reason I wrote this particular post is because my ministry is to kids of divorce. I want to educate people to the plight of some single parents. I realize there are many single parents who have healed, gotten themselves together after a divorce and are doing well financially. I praise the Lord they are able to provide in abundance for their children. In my church many of those single parents contribute to the single parents that need assistance and to our food pantry that feeds two-parent family as well as single parents. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the post.

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