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Church Rethinks School Lunches


A Colorado congregation has found a creative way to welcome the neighborhood to their church. Young people come for free school lunches and encouragement from people who care. Lilla Marigza explains.

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(Locator: Grand Junction, Colorado)

(Voice of Darian McHugh) "I never went to class and when I did it was once a week or so."

R-5 school in Grand Junction, Colorado is a place for high school students who need a second chance.

Travis Payne, Student: "Some kids are homeless at this school, bad family problems. It's basically a place where you can get your life back on track, add school credits and it helps you get ready for the real world."

These young adults face tremendous challenges.

Kiele Key, Student: "My hardest situation right now is working full time, working and being a parent and then also going to school."

First United Methodist Church down the street asked how they could lend a hand. Church members provide a hot meal every Friday because the school has no cafeteria, only a vending machine.

Travis Payne: "That's pretty cool because some kids aren't lucky enough to go to McDonald's. Or they don't know when they're gonna eat next. So, that helps em a lot by being able to go to the church and get some food."

The Rev. Blaine Scott, First United Methodist Church: "It is a way of this church participating in the community in which we live for the betterment of the community. A stronger community means that there is a greater opportunity for a stronger church."

Emily Kempton, First United Methodist Church: "So we are building relationships with these kids because they're learning this is a safe space that they can come and get a warm meal and they can expect friendly faces and we can say 'Hey, how was that test, or hey how's your baby doing?' Building the connections that let them know it's safe to keep coming back."

Dennis Page, Student: "Maybe other adults would look at us bad because we've been arrested or been to jail. We've had our hard times but the church looks at us like we're regular people."

(Voice of Chancey Garza, Church Member) "Please take chips. We have extra."

Darian McHugh, Student: "I really appreciate it, because I don't have money to pay for the food at R5 but on Fridays at least I know I'll get free food."

R-5 principal Anna Goetz says the care provided at the church leads to better results in the classroom.

Anna Goetz, R-5 School Principal: "And we have absolutely seen a difference, an increased positive energy. It's just an incredible difference that the church has provided for our students to have this opportunity to sit together and even interact with other people and eat a meal that was prepared specially for them. I think that gratefulness kind of spills over into the classroom and when they bring that to school and they're working on math that they have failed three years in a row and that they hate and their afraid of. And they believe that they're not going to pass and they come with that in their hearts to go to their class and do that difficult work. That has to have an impact and we think we're seeing it."

The Rev. Blaine Scott: "This program is not about churchianity; it's about Christianity. It's not about the building, it's about the people who we are building. It's about going beyond the walls to reach them to bring them into the walls."

Kiele Key: "They're not doing it just like for the attention. They want to make people feel good. They want to know at the end of the day that they helped someone out and gave them, they know that they left full."

The Rev. Laura Cartwright, Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church : "By definition the church is God's interment of mission. The church exists for the benefit of its non-members. If we are focused on our selves then we have missed our calling and we have mis-interpreted what God is inviting us to be, who he's inviting us to be, what he's inviting us to be part of."


For more information, contact First United Methodist Church in Grand Junction, Colorado at 970-242-4850.

This video was first published on October 12, 2012.