200,000 Reasons bearing fruit with local ministry grants

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This piece has been updated for accuracy. A correction was included in the Jan. 1, 2016 issue of the Arkansas United Methodist to clarify the churches involved in the first ministry listed below, and those changes have been made here, as well.

Seventeen Arkansas UMCs and partner organizations learned recently that they will be the first-ever recipients of 200,000 Reasons and Vernon and Eva Lee Paysinger grants, which provide support for new and ongoing projects to reduce childhood hunger in Arkansas.

With approximately $22,000 in available grant funds, members of the 200,000 Reasons Task Force reviewed 43 grant applications and selected 11 projects across all five districts that best reflected the initiative’s priorities of feeding ministries, public witness and education for long-term stability. Grant recipients are:

Camden/Fairview Backpack Program, a cooperative effort among four United Methodist congregations: Timothy UMC, St. Mark UMC, Fairview UMC and Westside UMC. The money will help provide weekend meals for students in the Camden Fairview school district in partnership with The Hub, an ecumenical community group. Provides weekend meals for Camden area school children, $2,500.

Cave City UMC Food Pantry, a new ministry to be located in the church and which will assist local children from this underserved county, $1,000.

First UMC Harrison “Fruits of the Spirit,” a new program in which the church partners with the elementary school and a local food bank to provide fresh fruit to school children, $2,500.

Lakeside UMC Lake Village “Loaves and Eggs,” provides a hot breakfast for 75 to 100 children in Chicot county, $2,500.

First UMC Mountain Home’s Summer Feeding Program, providing summer meals for 700, or nearly one-third, of the food insecure children in Baxter County, $2,314.73.

Oaklawn UMC Hot Springs, “Matthew 24 Food Pantry,” a new pantry providing for the needs of Hot Springs area children, operated cooperatively among several UMCs and Project Hope Foodbank, $2,500.

Mount Ida UMC/Joplin UMC Charge, Ouachita Village Inc./Montgomery County Food Pantry Mount Ida, “Children’s Emergency Backpack Program,” a new cooperative ministry to provide meals for children in three schools in Montgomery County, $1,000.

The Journey UMC Cabot, “Brownbag Summer Feeding & Homework Help Meals,” a weekly after-school homework help time, meal and Bible study for school-age children and youth; and a twice-weekly brown bag lunch program during the summer, $2,500.

First UMC West Memphis, “Family Dinner Night,” providing a monthly meal along with cooking instruction, kid-friendly demonstration and take-home ingredients for families in this underserved area, $2,500.

Six other projects were funded through the Dr. Vernon and Eva Lee Paysinger Endowment, administered by the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. The Paysingers were passionate about relieving hunger in Arkansas, and after Mrs. Paysinger’s death in 2014, the endowment was established to provide for hunger ministries.

In a cooperative effort between the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Ozark Mission Project (OMP) and local churches in Hot Springs, Mountain View and Rogers, OMP campers and community members will be able to participate in Cooking Matters classes, where they will learn how to make healthy food choices and how to prepare those foods. Each of the three communities received $2,139.33 in grant funds.

Little Rock and West Memphis will see new community garden projects become reality through a cooperative effort between Ozark Mission Project and First UMC Little Rock and First UMC West Memphis. These projects each received $400 to allow campers to help build and plant the gardens, which will then provide fresh produce for a local elementary school and health clinic.

The last Paysinger grant awarded $440 to the Senior High Assembly Task Force for a Hunger Banquet and Missions seminars during the 2016 Senior High Assembly. High school students will learn about Arkansas’ hunger issues and will participate in mission opportunities for reducing childhood hunger.