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Local church offers lunch to students during strike

By Staff | Mar 9, 2018

Vanessa McGuigan/Chronicle Volunteers at New Street United Methodist Church prepare lunch for kids who were out of school due to the teachers' strike.

New Street United Methodist Church opened its doors Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to serve a hot lunch to kids who weren’t receiving meals due to the teacher work stoppage.

The menu was spaghetti, bread, applesauce and dessert, and lunch was available to any child (or adult) who could get to the church. Church members donated items or money, and volunteers prepared the meals. Paul Gerrard, a church volunteer, provided a variety of snacks for the kids to take home, such as apples, raisins, packaged cookies and crackers.

“This is about the kids,” Gerrard said. “It doesn’t matter which side of the issue you’re on; this is a way to help kids who might be hungry.”

Andrea Corum, who organized the lunch, said had heard about restaurants in Charles Town and Ranson offering meals to kids, but hadn’t heard of any meals for the kids in Shepherdstown.

“This is a wonderful thing they are doing,” said Shepherdstown Middle School guidance counselor Amy Chrisman. “One of the big things we’ve found for our students is that they are in need of meals.”

Chrisman said the bags of food provided weekly by Caring Cupboard, a program started by some Shepherdstown churches, has continued despite the teacher’s strike. The bags were sent to the Shepherd University Wellness Center for families to pick up. However, many families live well outside of town limits and don’t have transportation, or parents work during the day and can’t pick up the food.

“We tried to get word out to them – we posted on Facebook. I, myself and a couple of other teachers drove out to those developments to deliver bags of food,” Chrisman said. “A lot of families have it (food bags) budgeted into their plans for the week. We really didn’t want the kids to go without. It’s not the fault of the children when they don’t have enough food.”

New Street United Methodist had planned to continue with the meals as long as necessary, but kids were able to return to school Wednesday.

Those wishing to contribute a donation to help offset students’ outstanding food bills, call Jefferson County Child Nutrition Coordinator at 304-728-9201, or email jinny.demastes@k12.wv.us. Contributions can be made to students in Shepherdstown by contacting the schools directly.

“This is not just a need because we’re not at work,” Chrisman continued. “This is ongoing each week at our schools. People don’t think of Shepherdstown as being an area where kids are hungry, but it is … I’m hoping this movement continues and we can continue to feed the kids.”