Chatsworth First UMC Feeds Hungry Children

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“Jesus said to Simon Peter … “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus said … “Simon ... Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon … Feed my sheep.” – John 21:15-17

Just before Jesus returns to heaven, He commands Peter three times to care for His sheep. Chatsworth First UMC's Saturday Sacks in Murray County is a perfect example of how Methodists are tending Jesus’ sheep! If you would like to establish an endowment to support wonderful programs like this, please contact Nancy Young, Georgia United Methodist Foundation’s Director of Planned Giving, at 678-708-6601 or nyoung@gumf.org.

Every Thursday during the school year, volunteers from Chatsworth First UMC and the surrounding community assemble nutritious “Saturday Sacks” so 400 to 600 elementary-aged children in Murray County have enough to eat on weekends. The meals are delivered to the schools on Friday mornings and secretively slipped into the children’s backpacks so they won’t be embarrassed.

“Saturday Sacks is a vital ministry because 33.1% of the children in Murray County are food insecure. This averages out to be about 3,570 children. Last week we fed 618 of them,” said Rev. Tamlyn Collins, Pastor of Chatsworth First UMC. “For about 10 years Volunteer Coordinator, Beth Thornbury, has worked tirelessly to ensure children within the six Murray County elementary schools, the Murray County Pre-K Center, and the Murray Head Start and Early Head Start Programs receive the food they need.”

School counselors and teachers use the following indicators to determine if a child is going hungry: Is the child rushing through the food lines? Is the child listless on Monday morning? Does the child eat quickly and then ask for more? Does the child regularly ask a teacher for food? Does the child comment about not having enough food at home? Does the child ask classmates if they can eat their leftover food?

Saturday Sacks relies exclusively on the generous donations it receives from individuals, businesses, the Church, and other churches in the community. Chatsworth First UMC recently received an anonymous $500 donation from a fund managed by the Georgia United Methodist Foundation. This contribution will provide about 500 meals.

“I want to thank everyone so much for caring and for making sure these children don’t go hungry,” Rev. Collins said. “God is very faithful. Although the donations sometimes come in at the last minute, we have always had what we need to bless these children.”

This article was originally published in the Georgia United Methodist Foundation's Fall 2017 Faith & Money.