CHRIST CHURCH IRVING SUPPORTS INITIATIVE TO END CHILDHOOD HUNGER
As part of its mission to seek out opportunities to serve, CHRIST Church Irving has pledged $256,000 to the Irving Schools Foundation “Food for Thought” program, which aims to ensure that Irving Independent School District (ISD) students are equipped for success with consistent access to safe, nutritious food. As a result of its commitment to fight hunger among the students of Irving ISD, CHRIST Church has delayed a previously announced plan to construct a 1,000-seat auditorium that will provide expanded space to serve children’s ministries. Currently, in the eighth month of a three-year capital campaign to build the new auditorium, CHRIST Church will postpone that initiative until May 2020 to address the more immediate need for child hunger.
Food for Thought is the newest initiative of the Irving Schools Foundation (ISF), aimed at ending hunger in Irving ISD by providing students with weekend and holiday food bags. Established in 1985, ISF provides financial resources to maximize educational opportunities for both teachers and students by funding programs, scholarships and activities that enhance creativity, leadership, and academic success.
“Nutrition was not originally part of our mission,” said Crystal Scanio, CEO of Irving Schools Foundation and the visionary behind Food for Thought. “But how can a student learn when she is hungry? We had to expand our mission to meet the basic needs of students. Our board was eager to do so, ”continued Scanio. “The first week we gave out food bags in March of 2018, we fed 150 kids! That was manageable!” said Scanio. “When the program grew to 400 students a week, we were hanging on. But now as it swells to nearly 1,000 kids per week, we urgently need financial support to sustain our efforts.” “Irving ISD counselors are projecting the need to grow to as many as 3500 kids per week and we need to find new ways to meet that need.”
Each food bag contains a basic combination of snacks and meals to feed one person for a few days,” said Scanio. “It’s about $5 to fill a bag for one child each week. That’s about $5,000 a week at our current rate. As we learn of more needs, that number could grow to more than $17,000/week, or $682,000 a school year.”
CHRIST Church Co-Pastor Greg Beauchamp said he was deeply affected when he heard about the food crisis among kids in Irving schools. “When we learned there are so many neighboring children suffering from food insecurity, we felt compelled to act,” said Beauchamp. “Christianity looks out for those who cannot help themselves, and at the top of that list is a hungry child. It is our duty and our honor to provide the resources that can help students in need.”
Though the reallocation of the church’s budget to Food for Thought will mean postponing a planned capital expansion, Beauchamp said he felt this is the right thing to do. “Our Christian conscience would not allow us to construct a new building when there are children regularly going without food. No one wants the new auditorium more than me, but the ‘want’ to feed hungry children is even greater.”
“Our vision for the church is to help everyone in our community with their physical, emotional and spiritual needs,” said CHRIST Church Co-Pastor Keith Luttrell. “We’ve done that in all kinds of ways that led to amazing growth in our church, but this project is greater than anything we’ve done before.”
“One of our foodservice employees saw a fourth-grader grab an apple core from the trash and eat the remnant,” said Scanio. “The school investigated and realized she wasn’t getting food at home. The more we looked into the problem, the more we realized this was a crisis throughout our district.”
Scanio shared these concerns with Beauchamp and Luttrell, who were moved to act quickly. “When Greg and Keith called to say CHRIST Church could support all 970 students for the year, I just started crying. It was truly an answer to my prayers,” says Scanio.
CHRIST Church has a rich legacy dating back 100 years as one of three original churches to receive land grants from the City of Irving founders. In 2012, nearly 350 members moved to its current location at 1750 E. Airport Freeway, and the church has grown to more than 1,200 members today with over 800 in attendance each week.
“At its core, Christianity is about loving God and loving your neighbor, especially those who are hurting, hungry, homeless or helpless,” said Beauchamp.
“We are a diverse church of young families who want to make our community a better place, and the huge hearts of our members show we stand ready to help in a time of need,” explained Luttrell. “We’re not the only church in Irving who will do this. We believe the broader Christian community will also step up to expand and sustain this effort.”
“We are offering so much more than seven meals a weekend; we are offering hope,” continued Scanio. “It’s giving our children a chance to simply be kids. Now they show up each day ready to learn without the distraction of an empty belly or the shame of not having food.”
To learn more about the Food for Thought initiative, please visit IrvingSchoolsFoundation.org.