5 Things | Leavenworth Community United Methodist Church: Backpack Mission

Taken in March, Cheryl Wood, left and Claudia Elliott pack food to be sent home with children.

I am a retired teacher from Cashmere, and I read about a similar program in the Wenatchee paper a long while ago. So when Cheryl Wood and I were asked to head the Leavenworth Methodist Mission Committee here, we agreed this would be our first project. We got our seed money from our UMW group (United Methodist Women), contacted the Leavenworth Schools for numbers of kids on free and reduced lunches, gave them copies of the parental permissions slips to send home and off we went with our first 15 children.

1. By the end of last June, we had gotten the Nazarene church to come on board (taking the 10 kids at Osborne Elementary), and we ourselves were now bagging for 32 others at Icicle River Middle School, Peshastin-Dryden, Cascade High School, Beaver Valley (up at Plain) and — because my daughter teaches in Pateros — they heard about it from her and we deliver 10 bags of packed foods to her in Cashmere each week, and she hauls it up to the Pateros K-12 school.

2. The Mission Committee of the United Methodist Church discovered the need for supplementing nutritious food for the weekends meals for those children who depend on breakfast and lunch at their schools. Children on the free/reduced lunch program often come to school hungry on Monday. Packing bags of food to send home with them on Fridays helps to ensure that their tummies are full.

3. Hungry children don’t do as well in school on Monday mornings. 

4. Cheryl and I (and folks in our church) scour the grocery ads, read thousands of food package labels for contents of salt, sugar, carb and protein amounts, haul loads of Costco-size boxes of nutritious non-perishable foods back to church in our cars, and stash them in our “Backpack Closet’ that two guys in our congregation built for us behind the elevator shaft. Then with other church “helpers” we double-bag them in plastic bags people give us, and on Thursdays I deliver them to the school counselors, who hand them out on Fridays to the students who are on the Free and Reduced Lunch program, and whose parents have signed the Backpack permission form. It’s all anonymous to us.

5. We look forward to helping even more children this coming year with your support.

Free and reduced lunches cost about $8 per bag. Monetary donations may be sent to the Leavenworth United Methodist Church, 418 Evans St. Leavenworth, WA 98826 and marked “Backpack Mission.”