Feeding ministries allow families to spend their limited income on other necessities like rent and utilities. However, the relief is temporary in so many cases. More needs to be done to significantly move the needle on childhood hunger. We are asking the Annual Conference to approve an expansion and extension of the work we have begun. As 200,000 More Reasons, we are asking churches to add poverty alleviation strategies to their ministries with hungry children. Specifically, we will focus on literacy and promoting healthy, stable families as means of hope and assistance for families to move out of poverty.
Our mission remains the same: 100% of Arkansas United Methodist churches will participate in an initiative to significantly reduce childhood hunger through feeding ministries, public witness and education for long-term stability.
200,000 More Reasons Objectives
200,000 More Reasons will continue fighting childhood hunger through the 5 Action Areas – Feed, Provide, Garden, Teach & Public Witness.
200,000 More Reasons will provide literacy support so that every child in food insecure homes can read at grade level.
200,000 More Reasons will offer ministries to the adults in the lives of food insecure children that promote a healthy and stable family life.
The Methodist Foundation awarded 200,000 Reasons the largest grant ever by the Foundation to strategically fight childhood hunger in the Arkansas Delta. These persistently impoverished counties have the highest rates of food insecurity in Arkansas. This three-year grant of $477,000 will:
- Provide $96,000 each year for mobile distributions in partnership with local United Methodist congregations and the Arkansas Food Bank
- $28,000 in the first year to pilot 1-3 summer literacy experiences with the ability to add more ministries each year.
- $25,000 in grant awards for churches around the state to add literacy and reading support to feeding ministries.
- Support the hiring of the Delta Community Project Coordinator to offer support to these summer literacy experiences and to explore starting a Project Transformation (summer literacy intern experience) in Arkansas.
Have an Existing Ministry?
GOAL: Engage children in reading activities to assist in achieving appropriate grade-level literacy.
- Establish partnerships with local elementary, middle, and/or high schools, with 10% of members spending 10 hours per month in service to the school.
- 50% of Arkansas Methodist churches offering on-site or partnership ministries that increase reading and academic skills as well as a snack, meal, or groceries to take home
Why: The most important predictor of high school graduation is a child’s ability to read by 3rd grade. More, children and adults who read below level are more likely to live in poverty.
Grade level reading statistics in Arkansas paint a difficult picture:
- 63% of 3rd graders in Arkansas are reading below their grade level.
- 67% of 4th graders are at or below basic reading ability.
- Only 29% of 8th graders are proficient at reading compared to 35% nationally.
- In 2017, students who were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of low family income, had an average score that was 20 points lower than that for students who were not eligible.1
- 13.7% of Arkansas adults age 16 and older lack basic literacy.2
Improving literacy skills increases the chances for graduation from high school and greater job opportunity, preparing the next generation of children to have parents with strong literacy skills.
Be creative! Talk to the teachers in your church. They know what will be effective!
Current feeding ministries can ask:
- What would it look like to distribute books at our pantries or meals? Or add Little Free libraries next to our blessing boxes? Or add reading time at meals?
- Those connected to weekend backpack programs ask how can we serve as tutors at the school?
- Out-of-school meal programs, what would it like to add an hour of homework time or a book club?
- Help children build personal libraries
- Imagination Library – Offer financial support and help children ages 0-5 sign up to receive 1 free book very month. Every county has a local Imagination Library affiliate.
- Collect & distribute new books from Scholastic or gently used books from your own libraries.
- Host Book Clubs for teens, elementary age children, and children ages 0-5
- Offer summer literacy experiences through VBS or weekly or short intensive programs
- Offer an after-school ministry that provides reading and homework help
- Partner with local literacy organizations to provide quality programs, such as your local Literacy Action Council.
- Be an official “Partner in Education” with your local school system. Search “Partner in Education” on the internet in your area.
Booneville United Methodist Church distributes meals on Thursdays to low income housing areas. They emptied their church library of books that children and their parents would like, distributing books with each meal. Weather permitting, they sit outside with the kids and read for a bit. Contact Mike Smith for more information.
Pulaski Heights United Methodist is a Partner in Education with Wakefield Elementary, providing tutors, a school food pantry, reading in classrooms on special days and purchasing Christmas gifts for over 115 children every year.
Altheimer United Methodist Church will be offering a 4-week Summer Literacy Experience in partnership with AR Kids Read and their local library. Trained tutors will spend time teaching reading skills Monday-Thursday around the lunch hour. Kids meet their tutors at a scheduled time at the library and grab lunch while there. Every kid will go home with new books at the end of the program.
- AR Kids Read
- Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading
- Arkansas Family Literacy Partnership: Even Start Statewide Family Literacy Initiative
- Arkansas Literacy Councils
- Aspire Arkansas
- Assistance League
- Be Mighty: Eat, Play, Learn, Little Rock
- Reading Rockets
- R.I.S.E Arkansas
- RTI Literacy Resources
Additional Book Resources
- Sacred Worth Books (Discipleship Ministries)
- The following books are for students who know their letters and sounds. Level Pre-A, A, B, etc. are the beginning levels, and by the end of first grade, we like kids to be at least a level H
1 2017 The Nations Report Card – Arkansas (NAEP) – https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/profiles/stateprofile?chort=1&sub=RED&sj=AL&sfj=NP&st=MN&year=2017R3
Goal: 35% of churches will offer ministries that promote a healthy and stable family life for food insecure children through such ministries as nutrition education, mental health support, including resourcing access to substance abuse assistance, and support groups for families in need.
Why: Food insecurity and other at-risk factors can have traumatic effects on children. Adults and future adults need support to alleviate impoverished conditions. Some families in poverty don’t have the resources to address other destabilizing forces such as substance abuse, depression, disease, and being overwhelmed by caring for their family members. 200,000 More Reasons is our way to help the children who suffer by offering support to the adults in their lives.
- Substance abuse is a major destabilizer for many families. There were approximately 750 opioid-related deaths in Arkansas in 2017.3 Drug abuse and overdose affects all races, classes, ages and gender. It does not discriminate.
- MissionInsite Reports can be used to find out what is important in your community. One report in the Delta near Marianna showed that families expressed concern about personal health and life, such as
- struggling with weight,
- health problems,
- caring for aging parents,
- violence in their neighborhood,
- day-to-day financial matters, and
- making right choices or finding direction.
By offering creative ministries open to low income, at-risk families in your mission field, there is hope that families can learn healthier ways of coping with circumstances to create more stability at home. With more stability, the chances of alleviating poverty and ending food insecurity for these families becomes greater.
Ministry Examples and Ideas
- Grandparent Support Groups
- Nutrition Education Programs, including Cooking Matters
- Group gathering or studies for health education (weight, diabetes, exercise, etc.)
- Peer Recovery Group, AA & Resources for Substance Abuse Crisis
- Dose of Reality Video for Youth Pastors, Parents and Youth Groups
200,000 More Reasons will be developing more resources during Fall 2020.
The Arkansas Department of Health’s Family Health Program will provide free training around many important topics.
The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office offers free (or low cost) curriculum and support, including leaders in some situations. Find your local office at uaex.edu/counties or email Brittany Schrick for assistance.
- Adventures in Grandparenting
- Faith & Nutrition
- Living Well with Diabetes
- Walk Across Arkansas (walking groups)
- Parenting with a Good Heart
- Co-parenting in Divorce
- Marriage Garden
- Stress Management
For more information, please visit the Get Started page from the original 200,000 Reasons webpages here.
|Church Name||Title of Project|
|Almyra United Methodist Church||Feed the Children|
|Asbury United Methodist Church||COVID Funding for Asbury Food Pantry|
|Asbury United Methodist Church, Magnolia||One Small Step|
|Bay United Methodist Church||Feed the little children|
|Cabot United Methodist Church||Cabot United Methodist Church Food Pantry|
|Canvas Community United Methodist Church||Dinners at Canvas (Pandemic Version)|
|Carlisle First United Methodist Church||Daily Bread Senior Food Pantry|
|Cedar Grove United Methodist Church||backpack program|
|Corning First United Methodist Church||Provide snacks and COVID-19 safety supplies to food insecure families|
|Cushman United Methodist||Ongoing food pantry|
|Desha United Methodist Church||Blessings Box|
|Fairview United Methodist Church||Hand Sanitizer for our Food Pantry Patrons|
|First United Methodist Church, Arkadelphia||Clark County Ecumenical Food Pantry|
|First United Methodist Church, Batesville||Blessing Box|
|First United Methodist Church, Fort Smith||The Casserole Crew|
|First United Methodist Church, Magnolia||The Stewpot Covid-19 Relief Grant|
|First United Methodist Church, Maumelle||Backpack Ministry|
|First United Methodist Church, Mountain View||Feeding Ministries Response to Covid-19|
|First United Methodist Church, Russellville||Covid-19 Expenses|
|First United Methodist, Bentonville||Second Street Pantry Missions|
|Fisher Street United Methodist Church||Pasmore Summer Feeding Program|
|Geyer Springs United Methodist Church||Covid feeding and Safety Outreach|
|Good Faith Carr United Methodist Church||Outdoor Food Pantry|
|Good Neighbor||Little Food Pantry|
|Harmony Grove United Methodist Church||Wanda Rose Food Pantry|
|Harmony United Methodist Church||Family Table|
|Highland Valley United Methodist Church||HVUnited Methodist Church COVID Response|
|Holiday Hills United Methodist Church||Feed the Hungry|
|Lakeside United Methodist Church||Youth backpack of food|
|Lakeside United Methodist, Pine Bluff||Mi Casa Hispanic Ministry Food Distribution and mask|
|Leslie United Methodist Church||Feeding the Hungry|
|Marianna Larger Parish||Delta Dream Food Pantry|
|Marked Tree United Methodist Church||COVID Response by 3 Rivers Food Pantry|
|McCabe Chapel||Feeding Plus|
|Mt. Olive United Methodist Church||Food Pantry|
|Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church||Food freezer, Distribution & Sanitizer|
|Newberry Chapel United Methodist Church||Feeding Ministries Response to COVID 19 Grants|
|Oak Forest United Methodist Church||FOOD PANTRY|
|Perryville United Methodist||Partners for Progress|
|Prairie Grove First United Methodist Church||Samaritan’s Cupboard|
|Prescott First United Methodist||Ministerial Alliance Project Be Safe|
|Primrose United Methodist Church||Protecting Family and Friends|
|Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church||Community Breakfast|
|Rison United Methodist Church||BLESSING BOX|
|Sardis United Methodist Church||Food Pantry Program|
|St. Andrew United Methodist Church||Feeding the Community–Body and Soul|
|St. Paul-Maumelle UMW||SPUMW Community Outreach|
|Waldron United Methodist Church||Food Pantry / Covid Sanitizer Supplies|
- Recruit younger volunteers to help with the distribution knowing that many of our traditional volunteers have greater risks for complications from the coronavirus.
- Screen volunteers, asking questions about symptoms and taking temperatures where possible.
- Schedule shift work with no more than 10 volunteers in one space at a time.
- Set up stations so that volunteers stay 6 feet apart. Tape on floors will provide a visual clue.
- Use gloves, masks, gowns, and wash and/or sanitize hands often.
- Keep times of distributions limited to certain hours.
- Employ drive through distributions where neighbors do not have to leave their car.
- Wear gloves and other protective gear as available to hand off – wiping the gloved hands with sanitizer in between clients.
- If not able to offer drive-through, then set up as close to the door as possible, limiting the number of guests to approach at one time and demarcating places to stand. Use a table to pass food to the neighbor, either inside or outside.
- Take information for any reporting needed verbally; do not have neighbors share pens in order to report.
- There should be no congregating. All meals should be packed to-go.