EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
February 11, 2014
Visit our newly remodeled website at EISCC.net
The meeting was held in Bristol Hall of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church beginning at 12:00 noon.
WELCOME: The meeting was called to order and conducted by EISCC President Warren Marquardson.
OPENING REFLECTION: Karen Waalkes opened the meeting with the Prayer of St. Francis.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 24 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the January 14, 2014, meeting were approved with one correction. The report on the Men’s Winter Shelter had indicated that the shelter was in a building owned by Metro Transit. In fact, the building is owned by Sound Transit.
TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting. See business section regarding dues letter.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Jerry Hatfield, Nancy Jacobs, Carol Kinsman, Trish Rogers, and Jan Starr for providing the day’s refreshments.
Dues: Warren Marquardson indicates that the annual payment reminder has been sent. Representatives are urged to follow up with their respective organizations to assure timely payment.
Contributions for Minutes: Warren also reminded representatives and guests that they can most effectively promote their programs and activities by providing the EISCC Secretary, Dick Jacke, with electronic or hard copies of materials that they have shared in our meetings so that they can be most accurately and completely reported to the membership in the minutes. He reiterated the EISCC policy that such events and activities will not, as a rule, be promoted in special announcements sent to our mailing list.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs had no update at this time. Their next meeting will be in two weeks, and she expects to have more to report on after that.
Backpack Meals: This report skipped in favor of the fuller presentation on this ongoing project in the day’s featured program.
Legislative Coordinator: Our Legislative Coordinator, Nancy Bent, continues to be unable to attend our monthly meetings due to scheduling conflicts. She has asked to be replaced as our Legislative Coordinator. If you or someone you know would like to take on this role, please contact a member of the EISCC Board.
Church World Service:
Laura Curkendall, the Administrative Program Coordinator for Church World Service Pacific Northwest Region, spoke about this year’s new unified Eastside Crop Hunger Walk. The event will be held May 17, 2014, in Kirkland and May 18, 2014, in Bellevue and Snoqualmie Valley. Proceeds from the event will support the work of three local anti-hunger groups and the global work of Church World Service. Some of the funds will help to purchase micronutrient packets which help to balance diets and fortified peanut butter.
Events will start with registration and a short presentation on the ‘why’ for the event. This will be followed by a three-mile hunger walk. A shorter option is also possible – or just come to show your support! The Kirkland walk will be preceded by sorting of food at the Kirkland Food Bank. Sign up for the walk online to involve sponsors in your walk. If you do join the walk, you might want to consider bringing along a bag for picking up trash along the route.
For more information, you may go to the Church World Service website for this event: www.eastsidecrophungerwalk.org. For even more information, you can call their office at 206-988-1622 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Starr spoke to the historical basis for church food gardens that were especially popular in the mid part of the last century. Churches (or other groups) raised food crops on available land to provide food to those needing such assistance. This not only can help to feed the hungry, but it can be a wonderful opportunity for church members of all ages to come together around a project of great help to the wider community even as it strengthens community bonds. If you are interested in finding out more about starting such a project, please contact Jan.
PROGRAM: Backpack Meals for Kids
As you hear about this program every month during our EISCC meetings, you might wonder why we thought a program presentation was necessary and appropriate for this project. Jan Starr, the Executive Director for this project, stressed that the need is growing, they want the project to be sustainable, and the awareness of the need is not as great as it should be. Before introducing the other speakers for this project, Jan wanted to remind everyone of the Dessert and Silent Auction fundraiser that is being held to support Backpack Meals for Kids. It will be held Friday, February 28, from 6 to 8 pm, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Factoria.
Jan introduced Cheryl Kuhn, to give some background on the need that this program serves. Cheryl reported that one fifth of US children live in poverty. Many of these children have been served during the last 65 years by government programs that provide free or low-cost lunches for children at their schools. That is 224 billion meals! In Bellevue, about one fourth of the children benefit from this government program. However, this program does not help children on the weekends – thus, the impetus for the Backpack Meals program.
The program began serving two schools and now serves 19 schools from 5th grade through high school. Backpacks are filled with two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners for two-day weekends and three of each for long, holiday weekends. $10 fills a backpack for one student for one week. $40 supports one student for a full month. $100 helps 10 students for a week. $3000 would support the entire program for a month!
Julie Foster, another Backpack Meals volunteer, spoke about the work and its impact. There are currently 14 volunteers working with this program. There is an oversight group, as well as the crews that pack and distribute the food each week. Food is generally packed on Thursday mornings at the Bellevue School District Warehouse and delivered to schools the following day.
The program has backpacks which are allotted to individual students. Bags of food which have been assembled for the students are then placed in the respective backpacks. It s reported that a few of the students did not even recognize the food packets that were distributed and required some help (oatmeal packets were mentioned specifically). The program has been expanded to cover breakfasts during the week at two schools which do not get these meals because they don’t have the numbers to qualify for the program.
Reports from the participating schools suggest that this program greatly impacts student performance in the schools. We have only heard about students in the abstract – privacy concerns prevent receiving more specific information on how specific students benefitted from the program.
Sustainability of this program is of the greatest concern going forward. Current expenses run roughly $1000 per week (in cash or food value). They have received grants (Windermere provided a grant of $10,000 this last year) and will be soliciting further grants, but donations from congregations and individuals are especially appreciated in support of their work.
Some congregations may wish to assist the program by packing food at their facilities and bringing them to Backpack Meals for distribution. That assistance is welcomed. However, because of its bulk purchasing power, it is also likely that Backpack Meals would be able to stretch donated cash further than individuals or individual congregations. The congregation-based project, however, does have the added advantage of building awareness and community within the congregation.
For those who would like to assemble their own backpack packages or donate food, a list of guidelines for food can be found on the program’s website: www.backpackmeals.org. For other questions about the program, please contact Jan Starr at email@example.com.
Sandy Lewis reported that long-time EISCC representative Marilyn Rands had recently passed. A program from her memorial service was circulated at the meeting.
Karina O’Malley reminded us that Springtime in Paris, the Sophia Way Dinner and Benefit Auction, will be held Saturday, March 15, 2014, from 5 to 9 pm at the Bellevue Hilton, $125. She also reported that the Women’s Winter Shelter is now at Bellevue First Congregational and accommodating approximately 30 women and families. They need blankets and help with meals.
Diane Richards reported that she had just heard an announcement that Governor Inslee had just suspended the use of the death penalty in Washington State.
Sandy Lewis reminded those providing food for our meeting lunches that vegetarian options should also be available.
CLOSING REFLECTION: The meeting ended with a closing reading from Thomas Merton by Tom Steffan.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, March 11, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
PROGRAM: EASTSIDE BABY CORNER.
LOCATION: BRISTOL HALL, ST. MARGARET’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 4228 FACTORIA BOULEVARD SE, BELLEVUE (ACROSS FROM NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL)