Local Churches Engage to Feed Students Left Without Food Because of Planned Teacher Strike
February 20, 2018 Charleston, WV The Family Policy Council of West Virginia was contacted Monday by a citizen who was concerned that this week’s scheduled public-school teacher strike, might prevent some at-risk students from getting a weekend supplemental food packet. That citizen was also concerned that the scheduled walk-out might create a four-day vulnerability period for those students.
We responded to that citizen’s concern and began to investigate. We verified that the unexpected teacher walkout scheduled for Thursday and Friday, may in some situations, disrupt the schedule for the typical supplemental weekend food packets distribution. Most public schools in West Virginia give these food packets to our at-risk public-school students to help them through the weekend.
Allen Whitt, President of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia said, “We have confirmed that some but not all, public schools do not have enough food for the supplemental food packs that typically go out on Fridays. The unexpected teacher work stoppage has thrown that schedule off and many are not prepared for a Wednesday food packet distribution. Many were especially not prepared to provide a supplemental packet that needs twice the food items to cover the extra days during the work stoppage.”
One Kanawha County High School principal reported that the baskets typically used for the food distribution have not yet been replenished for this weekend. Tomorrow is the last day for the kids to be in school this week so the food packets in some cases, aren’t available yet or are not enough for four days. That Kanawha County principle did report however, that in part, the need for supplemental food is being addressed by some of West Virginia’s churches.
The Family Policy Council learned that some of the Nazarenes, the Independent Baptists, the United Methodists, the Southern Baptist churches and others are already engaging with public schools in many places. They are bolstering food packet items for the students to get Wednesday. These churches and others throughout West Virginia, are also willing to respond to inquiries this weekend.
Kevan Bartlett, Pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church in Charleston, inquired of multiple school principals nearby his church to see if the packets would be available for Wednesday. Maranatha Baptist Church contributes to an area interdenominational food bank but also is involved in a program that provides backpacks, food, toys and educational materials for public school students around holidays.
Bartlett said, “I can’t imagine that any of our houses of faith wouldn’t respond to a student in need who contacts us because of this teacher situation this week.”
Brandon Hawley, Pastor at iHeart Church in Beckley said, “We contacted several area schools. I think a few were taken care of. Most of the 175 food bags we are preparing for Wednesday morning delivery are going to Beckley Stratton elementary. United Methodist temple was covering Bradley elementary. And Cranberry elementary was covered by another group.”
United Methodist Pastor Tammi Phillips, who leads congregations at Arnettsville, Lynch Chapel, Laurel Point and Snyder Temple, told us that all of the Monongalia County schools are covered with help from the Scott’s Run United Methodist Mission effort. Phillips said, “We have an emergency food pantry at Laurel Point if any family has need.”
Cleve Persinger, Director of Partnerships and Communications for the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists, said he had heard about the teacher work stoppage on the radio and that it might put some students in need. So he is communicating with the 230 Southern Baptist Churches in West Virginia to be on alert this weekend for any students impacted by the teachers’ walk out.
After speaking with multiple denominational leaders, pastors and legislators, The Family Policy would like to encourage any of our public-school students or families who may be impacted. There are many faithful West Virginians who would like to help.
If you’re a student at a school where there are no food packets made available to you Wednesday, and you have a food need Thursday or Friday while your teachers are out, or during the weekend, then please contact your local place of worship. They will be able to help you or direct you to a congregation or pastor who can.
Senator Robert Karnes from Upshur County, said, “There are going to be some of our students who will leave school Wednesday afternoon and go to a home where there’s nothing to eat for four days. Thankfully we’re being told by the Family Policy Council that there are many pastors, not only in my district, but all over the state, who are aware of the potential for issues this weekend and who are eager to meet these emergency needs of some our most vulnerable students.”