In October of 2019, the Little Fliers Food Program (LFFP) opened its doors to serve over 60 students from a local elementary school. In reality, this program was put upon the hearts of its volunteers long before. Searching for a way to help students at the elementary school with basic food needs, a teacher approached members of The First Missionary Church. After receiving school approval, contacting students’ families, working out the logistics, seeking food and monetary donations, and collecting enrollment forms, the first food bags were ready to be packed. Each week, with the help of a church member who volunteered to manage the program, a team of teacher volunteers visited the church to fill a gallon-size bag with two breakfast items, two lunch items, and two snacks for the weekend for each of the students who signed up for this outreach program.
Knowing that if there were more funds, more students could be fed, the LFFP applied for and received the region’s Catalyst Grant. With this money, the LFFP was able to offer more food over the weekends, larger servings of foods, and extra food for holiday breaks from school. In addition, during the shutdown of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March through May of 2020, the LFFP continued to pack and give food bags to the students. Before the 2019-2020 school year ended, a large grocery bag of food was given to each student to help during the summer recess. The Catalyst Grant helped make this possible.
Having over 40% of the school district enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program means that a large portion of the students suffer from hunger daily. The school provides breakfast and lunch to these students, but what about when the students go home? By not having this basic need met, students are often filled with concerns like “What will I eat for dinner,” “How will I make it through the weekend,” and “When we have Spring Break, where will I find food?” The LFFP is able to alleviate some of those worries and anxieties. Now in its second year, the Little Fliers Food Program is able to help feed 83 students. The food varies from week to week, but every student enrolled in the program is given a bag before they leave school for the weekend. On holidays or longer breaks from school, two large bags are packed to ensure each child will have more food to get them through their time away from school.
The responses from both families and students have been overwhelmingly positive. Some of the comments include, “This is great,” “Very much appreciated,” “I can’t even begin to tell you how much this has helped our family,” “Making ends meet is difficult as it is; the food bags that are sent home have been a blessing to my child,” “We are so thankful for the LFFP,” “Knowing that [my son] will have food to eat on the weekends is such a relief,” “I love that the foods are grab-and-go or easy to make,” “Pudding is my favorite treat,” “I love Fridays now because I get a bag of food,” and “The popcorn is fun to make!” Teachers have also noticed favorable changes in their students that they attribute to having the food support outside of school, such as an increase in focus during the week, a more positive attitude upon coming to school, and joy in receiving the food bag. The Little Fliers Food Program, in conjunction with The First Missionary Church and the Catalyst Grant, has been incredibly blessed to help over 140 students since 2019 with food needs. It is truly God’s word in action. James 2:14-17 says, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
This article was written by Kristie Badik & Sam Maynard from LFFP. The Little Fliers Food Program is a ministry of First Missionary Church in Clyde, Ohio, which began in 2019. This ministry of providing food to school age children has been funded in part by the region’s Catalyst Grant program.