Summer Nutrition Program Starts Early at St. John's, Wake Forest
For the past three summers, Joy Shillingsburg of St. John's, Wake Forest, has led the government-funded Summer Nutrition Program (SNP) in partnership with a coalition of Wake Forest church and civic groups. In summer 2019, the program fed more than 1,700 adults and children.
This year, because of COVID-19, Shillingsburg was given permission to start the feeding program early. On April 20, 2020, the ministry began serving dinner from 5-6 p.m. three nights a week (Monday-Wednesday) at Hope House in Wake Forest. Hope House is a mission house of Friendship Chapel Baptist Church, one of our longtime SNP partners and the largest African American Baptist Church in Wake Forest. Hope House is located close to two federal housing developments and ideally situated in the community to serve walk-thru and drive-by curbside meals. In the first week alone, the feeding ministry served 380 meals in three nights. On one of those nights, 150 meals were distributed in 18 minutes.
Members of St. John's and neighboring churches volunteer to hand out meals each night. One former St. John's EYC member (she is a senior now at Elon University and will begin serving in Louisiana this August with the Episcopal Service Corps) has helped every night, taking the temperatures of volunteers and assisting with logistics. After the first night of dinner service she told Shillingsburg, "this was the first meaningful thing I have done in six weeks." Teachers and administrators from local Heritage High School brought more than 200 sandwiches to add to the meal bags, happily helping and getting the chance to see the students they missed seeing everyday.
People in the Wake Forest community have also been extremely generous with their donations to St. John's and the Summer Nutrition Program. The contributions have helped purchase cleaning supplies, provided donations to Hope House for their help in hosting the program, and, eventually, will assist in the purchase of add-on items such as fresh produce, hygiene supplies, school supplies or other products and food that might help the families coming for meals.