Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Dr. Bob Long, senior pastor of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, often asks his congregation, "Wouldn't it be great if...?" or "Why don't we...?" Some months ago, St. Luke's was asked to consider participating in mobile meals in an expanded way. "What if we..." has now become Ending Hunger OKC, the church's new food outreach ministry.
Beginning July 1, Ending Hunger OKC will begin coordinating mobile meal deliveries in Oklahoma County through a grant from the Areawide Aging Agency. They will partner with 59 churches and community organizations across the Oklahoma City metro who prepare and deliver meals to homebound senior citizens. They will also begin a pet food ministry, AniMeals, so these seniors won't have to share their limited food resources with their four-legged companions.
"One of the ways our church has experienced significant growth has been to model other churches and organizations throughout the country who are leading the way," said Rev. Phil Greenwald, St. Luke's Executive Pastor of Administration. "When we learned about this opportunity, we immediately made plans to visit highly successful meals on wheels programs and others working to combat hunger."
First, Dr. Long and his leadership team traveled to Anaheim, Calif. to learn about Caterina's Club and Chef Bruno Serato. One day, Chef Bruno's mother, Caterina, noticed a young boy eating potato chips because he had no other food at home. She told her son to fix the child a plate of pasta. That single dish has grown into Caterina's Club which now feeds more than 25,000 children each week.
A few weeks later, Rev. Greenwald led a group to visit Interfaith Ministries Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston and Galveston County. Their staff and volunteers deliver more than 4,000 meals each day to senior adults. In addition to traditional mobile meals, they offer programs for aniMeals on Wheels, meals for veterans and distribute more than 3,000 bag lunches each day to preschoolers. Their newest program, Hospital to Home, is a partnership with three Houston hospitals to provide meals and social supports to seniors following their discharge.
"Because of these visits we quickly saw the potential go beyond a traditional meals on wheel program," said Rev. Greenwald. "We see an opportunity for our food ministry to reach not only homebound seniors, but also veterans, the homeless, disadvantaged children and pets. Ending Hunger OKC will be working to expand our existing relationships with community partners like the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Neighborhood Services Organization and others to help us share God's love and bring hope to the world one meal at a time."