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Admiral UCC challenges PNC churches to feed children

Admiral UCC has issued a challenge each summer for the last two years to UCC churches to raise funds for local food banks.

In 2017 Alki UCC and Monroe UCC participated.

Gerry Flaten, Peggy Rich and Uta Rockel show the food collected on Sunday, June 17.

Andrew Conley-Holcom, the pastor, said that the church’s Outreach Team decided to challenge other churches in the conference to raise 2,000 pounds of food during the summer because summer is the “hungriest time of year” for children.

“Many children rely on access to free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs, which are not available in the summer,” he said.  “In addition, food bank donations are usually down during the summer.”

Admiral Church is holding its Summer Food Drive for Hungry Kids to assist West Seattle Food Bank through June, July and August.

In the first three weeks, they collected 341 pounds of food.  Not only do church members participate, but the appeal is out to the neighborhood, the 12-step groups and preschool that meet in the church.

“It’s an outreach for justice and an outreach to neighbors,” said Andrew.

Readerboard draws food donations from the community. Photos courtesy of Admiral UCC

“We see ourselves as ‘the little church that could,’ as a small, neighborhood, progressive church in West Seattle with membership of less than 60 people,” said Uta Rockel of the Outreach Team.

It started in 2016 with a challenge from the Outreach Team to  the Admiral congregation to donate 1,000 pounds of food to their local food bank.

“Some thought it was impossible, but we ended up with 2,500 pounds of donated food and cash,” said Uta.

Since then, they have challenged every UCC church in the PNC to “answer the nutrition deficit of the needy” in their area by challenging their congregations to collect food and money to support local food banks and children who need nutritional support during the summer.

“During the school year, 22 million U.S. school children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.  Only 3.9 million of them receive meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program,” Uta reported.

She said the gap is because of lack of access to meal sites, insufficient program awareness and limited resources when schools are closed, leaving 18 million children struggling with hunger.

Most UCC churches give to their food banks on a regular basis, so the challenge is not much of a stretch.

Monroe participated the last two years. The first year was a bigger response because they did the drive for two months and included donations from their “regular” stint sitting outside a local Fred Meyer, asking for donations of cash and food for the Sky Valley Food Bank.

Jane Sorenson, pastor, said they used to do that five times a year, but couldn’t this year. Last year, they did the drive for one month so response was smaller.

“We limited it to one month because we also do a school backpack drive in the summer, and didn’t want to over-ask,” Jane said. “Admiral outdid us, but it was great to participate.”

Alki participated last year but, being in pastoral transition, not in 2018.

The Admiral Outreach Team urges a few dedicated people in other churches, like Admiral’s team of three, to contact their local food bank and learn local statistics.

In West Seattle, about 9,000 use the food bank at least once yearly and 170 bags of food are delivered to home-bound elderly or disabled each week. The food bank distributed 1.3 million pounds of food in 2017, with 25 percent of clients receiving more of their groceries from the food bank and 59 percent having annual incomes of less than $12,000.  Thirty-eight percent are under 18.

“Let your congregation know there is a problem, “an elephant in the church,” the church is now aware of and could do more to solve,” Uta said, suggesting mobilizing from there communicating through the newsletter, at coffee hour, with posters and with speakers during worship. “Jazz up your congregation to help feed children.”

For information, call 206-932-2928 or email


Pacific Northwest United Church News © Summer 2018


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