Since its opening in the fall of 2014, a big part of the vision for Dr. James “Red” Duke Elementary has been to develop opportunities for local businesses, organizations, and community members to collaborate with the campus, and invest in the students. In an effort to fulfill this vision, this school year, Duke Elementary administrators initiated a partnership with Shepherd of the Heart United Methodist Church to provide the weekend lunch assistance program, “Food from the Heart,” for students in need.
“Food from the Heart” was developed by Shepherd of the Heart’s mission team as a way to directly and immediately assist children in need in the Pearland area. The sack lunch assistance program provides nutritious meals for at-risk students during weekends and extended school holidays. The program focuses on children that currently qualify for free or reduced lunches at Duke Elementary, and are at risk for going hungry when school is not in session. Through cooperation with the school, the program in its first week was able to reach 18 children in need immediately and with little overhead.
“Often times, volunteers do not get to experience a personal connection to the work that they do, but members of this community are getting to serve those closest to them. It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” said Duke Elementary counselor, Krystal Bryant.
“The members at Shepherd are a compassionate and diverse group of individuals who had been seeking a child-centered ministry, with a direct impact right here in our community,” said Frances Caballero, Missions Team Leader for the church. “When we researched other sack lunch programs across the country and discovered all the positive impact they had on entire communities, we knew this was what we were looking for.”
“We are excited about partnering with the faculty and staff at Duke Elementary, and have enjoyed working together for these children,” said Christi Conway, senior pastor of Shepherd of the Heart, at United Methodist Church. “We are also looking forward to many opportunities for the school, parents, and even the greater community to get involved.”