Midway UMC Helps Meals by Grace Feed the Hungry
This is one of three stories featured in GUMF's Faith & Money Summer 2020 newsletter, which shares how three of our partners in ministry (Porterfield Church in Albany, Cascade UMC in Atlanta, and Midway UMC in Alpharetta) are offering hope and encouragement to their communities during the pandemic.
Food insecurity can happen to anyone without warning. Suellen Daniels, and her husband Steve, both lost their stable jobs due to the 2008 recession and were cared for by friends and family until they got back on their feet. After a service day at their church, they realized that children in Forsyth County were going hungry, and they decided to do something about it.
What began with the Daniels gathering friends to cook and deliver meals to children in households identified by school social workers, morphed into Meals by Grace, a nonprofit which received its 501(c)3 designation in 2014. Suellen Daniels serves as its executive director.
Midway UMC in Alpharetta is also committed to feeding the hungry. “It’s a basic tenet of our faith, meeting basic human needs for all children of God. We cannot begin to address the spiritual needs of those in our community without first addressing their physical needs,” said Senior Pastor Rev. Jennifer Andone. “To do the tremendous job Meals by Grace does week in and week out, they need a lot of space. This food-support ministry meets in our gym, fellowship hall, and kitchen every single week of the year to provide meals and more for Forsyth County families who need help providing sufficient meals for their children. There’s rarely a shortage of dedicated volunteers, but we work to provide help on holiday weekends when many of the regular volunteers might be out of town. We’ve also supported them with multiple food drives, backpack drives with school supplies, and financial support.”
“After the World Health Organization designated the pandemic on March 11, Meals by Grace went into crisis mode and came up with an action plan. With the closing of the schools and knowing that our home delivery families lack transportation, we realized they would need all 21 meals each week. Combined with the sudden surge in families asking for food at the pantry, Meals by Grace saw a 110% increase in requests for food through April. In just the first four weeks after the declaration, we fed 1,239 families (5,258 people), distributed enough food for 25,830 meals and fed 2,543 children,” said Daniels. “Even with the drastic decrease in volunteers due to CDC guidelines, we added a mid-week service day to take care of the additional home delivery families who were begging the school social workers for more resources. All the bags of food we had stockpiled to distribute over the summer were immediately given out, and then we had the problem of finding the right food items and enough volunteers/hours in the day to resupply those stocks. As of July 11, we have fed 4,819 families including 10,972 children and 17,947 individuals, and distributed 102,672 meals just during the COVID-19 period.”