Volunteers prepare to deliver around 100 lunches Monday to Pickens County children who are thought to be in need as part of a MUST ministries program serving Pickens County for the first time this year.
By Laiken Owens
A north metro ministry with 18-year record of providing food to hungry children in the summer, began running routes delivering lunches in Pickens County this week. For the first week, they were delivering to 100 kids but this number could rise with strong community donations and volunteers.
MUST Ministries teamed up with Community Christian Fellowship to bring students in need lunches during the summer.
MUST volunteers bag up free lunches.
“This is our eighteenth year to provide meals, but our first to serve in Pickens,” said Paula Rigsby, MUST Seasonal Coordinator in a press release. “We plan to serve as many children in Pickens as we can, but that number is dependent on community support,” she said.
The program will provide needy students lunch during the summer break, five days a week. With the help from the Pickens County School System MUST ministries finds out which kids are in need (determined by the free and reduced lunch progam at school) so they can deliver the lunches. Community Christian Fellowship is helping the cause by giving it a headquarters to set up the lunches from their Sanders Street location.
Each lunch has four items: something sweet, something salty, a sandwich, and a juice box. These lunch bags are made by donations from the community, and then put together by volunteers from MUST; the kid volunteers added personalized designs and messages on each bag for the recipients during their work Monday.
To determine which counties get this program MUST surveyed areas in the northern arc of Metro-Atlanta to see which counties were in need. Then they spoke to social workers from the schools to see which area had the greatest need for the program.
This is the first year Pickens County has had this program, and the volunteers intend to keep it going from now on. The program survives off of donations from the community, and volunteers.
“MUST will serve more children if the Pickens community responds by helping,” saids Kaye Cagle, Director of Marketing/Public Relations for MUST.
As of right now they are serving 100 kids lunch in Pickens County. “In order to make this successful there are two things that need to happen: We need donations - the donations can come from volunteers of the community, churches, clubs, businesses, families, etc., and second, Word of mouth, everyone needs to tell someone,” said Toni McAlister, MUST Area Coordinator.
“Monday through Friday, rain or shine, we aren’t giving up,” said Paula Rigsby, an excited MUST volunteer.
MUST established the program 1995. The program delivered 190,000 lunches last summer to 2,500 kids. The lunch program will continue through August 2nd. MUST currently has the program set up in the following counties: Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Fulton, Paulding, and Pickens County.
“Eighteen summers ago, a teacher came to MUST who was concerned about what her students would eat during vacation. She asked MUST to provide the meals and she promised to personally deliver them to her students. She helped 25 children that summer, but today, the MUST program spans eight counties. What is the sack lunch goal? 250,000,” said a MUST press release.
MUST stated in the press release that they are grateful to the host site in Pickens who is working hard to provide some of the volunteers and space to support the outreach. Special thanks to the staff and congregations at Community Christian Fellowship who volunteered to be a host site.