UCC exec attending White House forum on summer food program
The White House, looking to expand a food program to make sure low-income children don’t go hungry during the summer, is looking to partners in the faith community for assistance. One of the United Church of Christ’s national officers has been invited to a forum next week in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to strengthen and extend the White House’s Summer Food Service Program, to bring nutritious meals to more growing children in 2015.
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of UCC Local Church Ministries, will attend the forum, “Summer Meals 2015: Expanding the Table,” on Tuesday, Feb. 3.
“I am honored and excited to be among several faith leaders invited to the White House to participate in a forum on how, together, we can expand access to summer meals for low-income children, especially through the Summer Food Service Program,” Guess said. “There is an expectation that those of us gathered will leave the White House with a firm commitment to advancing greater understanding of and grassroots buy-in into the SFSP program, which is so crucial to our kids, but vastly underutilized in the communities that need it most.”
SFSP was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Free meals are provided to those 18 years of age or younger at approved SFSP sites in areas with concentrations of low-income children.
The UCC’s recent work on hunger was highlighted by the all-church initiative called Mission: 1, an 11-day effort for hunger awareness in 2011.
“The concerted effort during Mission: 1 allowed us to recommit to being a denomination at the forefront of fighting hunger and poverty—locally, nationally and globally,” Guess added. “As part of that successful initiative, in addition to collecting 1 million food items in 11 days, UCC members offered nearly $300,000 to support domestic and global hunger programs. Just this week, a group from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the SFSP program, was at the UCC’s Franklinton Center at Bricks in rural Whitakers, N.C., to see the impact of ‘Just Foods,’ a UCC-led initiative that received its seed money from ‘Mission: 1.'”
Guess said that one of the most important issues in the UCC is food security and making sure the most vulnerable populations, especially children, have uninterrupted access to affordable, healthy food.
“Sharing at table together, both practically and sacramentally, is central to our identity and witness as Christian people,” Guess said.
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