United Methodist Church Youth Inspire Lent Focus on Poverty and Hunger

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

Members of Bethel United Methodist Church in Connecticut plan to use the six weeks of Lent to help their congregation and community learn more about hunger and poverty in the United States.  The 250 member church is following the lead of its youth group who engage in the summer with a service project to help low-income families in Central Appalachia.

“We are using Heifer International’s Seed of Change Initiative to help educate our members and community that poverty is a very big issue here in the United States,” said Ann McLellan, volunteer Sunday school coordinator.  Heifer’s Seeds of Change Initiative focuses on helping people living in extreme poverty in the Appalachia region, stretching from rural Pennsylvania to northern Alabama, and the Arkansas Delta, which follows the Mississippi River along the eastern half of the state.  The Initiative focuses on community-based development.

“Research tells us many people in the United States are without work and don’t have enough to eat,” said Pat Keay, national community engagement director for Heifer International.  “One in six children in this country don’t know where or when they will find their next meal.”

Church members kicked off the six week effort with a Lent Fair on February 9, 2014. The fair took place during the church “coffee hour” and members visited different tables to learn about the Seeds of Change Initiative and other projects.  In addition, the Sunday school passed out banks from Heifer’s Fill The Ark program and the donations will be received every week.

“We choose Heifer programs because we like its mission, it involves animals which is nice for the children and it’s in line with what we want to teach our children about giving,” said McLellan.

Heifer International is a global nonprofit leader of sustainable agricultural development for smallholder farmers. Family-oriented, community-based development models remain at the core of Heifer’s programs, along with the Passing on the Gift® process where families agree to give the first offspring of their donated animal to another needy family. In addition, the Seeds of Change Initiative helps farmers increase production, builds an infrastructure for selling their products and provides access to resources and financial assistance.

 “We will need to double food production over the next two to three decades to keep up with worldwide demand. Support from churches like Bethel United Methodist church is critical to help reach our goal of assisting two million families annually,” said Keay.

Bethel United Methodist Church participated in Heifer’s REACH Project for Haiti in 2013. In addition to participating in the Fill the Ark program,  Church members purchased coffee from Haitian farmers as well as auction art by local artists to raise money.

Information about Heifer International programs and ordering resources is available online.  In addition to the online resources, printed resources are available by calling 1-888-5-HUNGER (548-6437).

About Heifer International:

Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For 70 years, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org, read our blog, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or call 1-888-5HUNGER (888-548-6437).