Bonner church adds to free summer meals with dinner

Erin Mahan opens a can of corn as she begins to prepare food Monday for the free weeknight dinners now offered at Olivet Church of God in Christ, 201 Springdale Ave. Enlarge photo

June 10, 2015

Another Bonner Springs organization is working to ensure no one in the community goes hungry this summer.

Olivet Church of God in Christ, 201 Springdale Ave., this week began offering free dinners from 6 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Like the summer breakfast and lunch program offered through USD 204, the meals are free to children 18 and under, but the church also is covering the cost for adult meals.

The program actually started last year, when the church served breakfast and lunch, thanks to member Erin Mahan, who works for USD 204’s food service department. Nearing the end of her pregnancy, she wasn’t able to work serving summer meals at the schools, so she asked the church if it could provide a meal program of some kind through the same grant program offered by the state that funds USD 204’s program.

It was too late for the Bonner church to get a grant on their own, but they were able to partner with the Church of God in Christ locations in Kansas City, Kan., who already had a meal program in place.

Rosalyn Brown, who oversees administrative functions at Olivet, said the church readily supported Mahan’s idea.

“We want to try to make a difference,” Brown said. “And a lot of times things happen in Kansas City, Kan., that don’t get out to this area.”

Mahan said the church offered breakfast and lunch last year because they felt there were many children north of Kump Avenue who didn’t want to cross the major street to get breakfast and lunch at Bonner Springs Elementary School. Breakfast was not popular, but Mahan said they saw an average of 40 children per day at lunch.

This year, the church decided it might try to provide dinners because its Wednesday evening fellowship dinners were popular, and they hoped more children would take advantage of the USD 204 meals earlier in the day.

“Instead of taking away from those amenities, we thought there was a bigger need in the community for dinner, because there are so many families that struggle,” Mahan said. “This is my passion; this is my vision. I feed the kids all school year, I feed them lunch all summer, why not dinner? And it helps me, too, because I’m a single mom.”

While the grant only covers children, and at USD 204, adults pay for their meals, the church decided to cover the cost of any adults who come to eat, though they will accept donations.

“We’re not using this to make a profit, really; we’re using this as an outreach,” Mahan said. “Whatever we can do to help the community to grow, and to let them know that we’re here to help people.”

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