Two pastors from different faiths are among the many South Sounders putting differences aside and resources together to feed children this summer.
The Rev. Al Harmon of Grace United Methodist Church and the Rev. John Atkins of New Beginnings Baptist Church share a building in Tacoma’s East Side at 1801 E. 34th St., and they’re cooperating to run a state-funded meal program.
“There’s a lot of things we do that we believe in,” Harmon said. “(It) doesn’t matter if you’re Baptist or Methodist, we’re serving the community. Everything we do is for them.
“It doesn’t make sense for a kid this day and age to not have a meal.”
Their site is among 96 in Tacoma and an estimated 763 in Washington that will operate a lunch program this summer while school-based free and reduced-price lunch programs are on vacation, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
For a child to get a meal, he or she simply has to show up; there’s no paperwork for parents to fill out, no identification to show.
Dates, times and meal types vary from site to site, however, so families are encouraged to call their nearest site ahead of time.
Meal sites around Pierce County are held at schools, parks, playgrounds, apartments and child care centers.
The Kid Power Center, which operates in the South End Neighborhood Center, is participating for the second time. It’s at 7802 S. L St.
“We did it last year, and it was very rewarding,” said Joanna King, director of The Kid Power Center.
King said that for some kids, the lunch may be the only regular meal they have all day. Unfortunately, there are times when there’s not enough food to go around.
“The second day we had to turn away 13 kids, which we feel really bad about,” King said.
The child care center also provides breakfast. The morning program is not funded by the state, however, so all food is purchased and served by the center.
Back on the East Side, the two pastors say they serve the neighborhood in hopes of cleaning it up.
“This community was a mess when we came here four years ago,” Atkins said.
“We want to change the people and their attitudes,” Harmon noted.