Every church in town does more than its fair share of community service and outreach, but there’s one in particular that is going out of its way to reach the poor and the hungry.

This year St. Paul’s Episcopal Church celebrates 10 years of providing free meals through Kids Café with assistance from Harverster’s Food Network.

Now known  as “the church that feeds people,” St. Paul’s outreach program started with church members wanting to feed hungry kids through BackSnacks, a program through Harvester’s Food Network, which they started in March of 2009 by teaming up with the school district to provide kids backpacks full of non-perishable food.

The next summer they started providing meals to hungry kids  at Huntress Park through ‘Kids Café,’ in an effort to feed hungry kids.

But the church didn’t stop there. They improved ‘Kid’s Cafe’ and turned it into a program that started with giving away hotdogs and pre-packaged food into one that serves hot meals in two locations last year with healthy food that kids will actually eat. This year the program changed again because of coronavirus -- parents can get Grab ’N’ Go meals for the kids every weekday in the church’s parking lot at Sixth and Clarke.

 In August of 2009, they started distributing free perishable food to anyone who felt a need on the third Wednesday of the month, an ongoing program  that continues with its next distribution at the Covenant Church parking lot on June 17.

 In March of 2011, St. Paul’s started a commodity program for seniors and others who meet the program’s requirements, distributed on the fourth Wednesday of the month, which is also taking place in the Episcopal Church parking lot.

The church has tried everything from attempting to start a food pantry in their basement to adding fun activities to Kid’s Café to attract more kids to take advantage of the program.

In 2017 they held workshops on how to address poverty and in March of last year started a “Help Center” open Wednesday afternoons to help unemployed people get back on their feet.  The work that AmeriCorps workers did to assist the church in 2017 allowed the church to expand its food and assistance programs and reach even more people. Most recently, they tried to reach disadvantaged Spanish-speaking residents with the “Good News” section in the paper.

A small group of hard-working volunteers are behind these efforts, including a few community members who aren’t Episcopalians. We commend them all and continue to be impressed by what the church has done. If we all tried as hard as they have to feed the hungry and help the poor, there would be no one who’d go hungry.

-- Ryan D. Wilson