The Invisible Problem
Recently, Loudoun Hunger Relief picked up this season’s final crop from JK Community Farm which has provided an estimated $240,000 in free produce and livestock this year. The JK Community Farm in Purcellville, Virginia, was created to assist hunger relief organizations by providing fresh food to those who need it most.
The median household income in this area is more than double the national average, yet it is estimated that 16,000 Loudoun County residents suffer from food insecurity. This is the invisible problem.
Two ministries that have been created to battle hunger here in Loudoun county have strong bases here at Sterling UMC – Grace Ministries and Backpack Buddies.
Backpack Buddies is a program that supports the 22 million children nationally who receive free or reduced price meals. They provide meals for kids to eat over the weekend when they wouldn’t be receiving food at school. Here in Loudoun, it is estimated that about 13,000 children qualify for this program and that over 3,000 students rely on it for weekends and extended breaks.
Sterling UMC provides backpacks for the children attending our local Elementary School, Rolling Ridge. Generally, backpacks contain easy to prepare canned or boxed meals, individual breakfast items, snacks, juice and milk boxes. Each month, about 200 backpacks are assembled by volunteers with love, so that the children of our community don’t have to go to bed hungry.
GRACE Ministries is another program dedicated to fighting hunger, but with a slightly different mission. GRACE provides monthly distributions of food, clothing and diapers held at seven locations across the Northern Virginia area. There is also an associated homeless ministry and job training program at certain locations.
The GRACE Ministry program here at Sterling UMC is the only location within Loudoun county. Grace receives supplies through the Capital Food Bank and LINK, another non-profit that provides emergency food to the surrounding community. Local produce is also provided by programs like DeShong’s Gift Back Gardens, diapers are donated by the Northern Virginia Diaper Bank and clothing is donated directly from individuals. Sterling UMC’s monthly distribution typically serves 80 to 100 families in need from Sterling and is supported by church and community volunteers.
If you would like more information about Sterling UMC’s GRACE and Backpack Buddies programs click here or subscribe to our weekly email. We are a community church and all are welcome to be our guest, attend our services and support our mission efforts.