Today in the Mission Yearbook

Texas kids get a front row seat to living on a fixed income

First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth hosts a camp on the experiences of hunger

August 18, 2018

Participants at First Presbyterian Church’s Mission on the Move Camp 2017. (Photo by Robyn Michalove)

It’s one thing to see or read about the struggles of people living in poverty, stretching every nickel or dime. It’s another to get a true sense of what the daily struggle is like. First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth, Texas, recently gave young people a small dose of what many low-income residents in their community deal with when it hosted a camp for students in fourth through eighth grades.

This was the third year for the camp. “The kids love it,” said the Rev. Robyn Michalove, associate pastor of mission and family. “We have to cap attendance at 40 children and we always have a waiting list.”

Participants learn what it is like to shop for, buy and prepare food on a fixed income, as well as the headaches of getting to and from the store.

“The kids ride the city bus from our downtown campus to our outreach center. On the city bus, it literally takes one hour with a transfer, and that includes standing in line and waiting in the Texas heat,” said Michalove. “We pick them up on the church bus and transport them back, and it only takes seven minutes.”

Michalove says it gives participants a sense of what people living on a limited income must deal with on a daily basis.

“You don’t have to preach a sermon; you don’t have to teach a lesson. They get it and they see the people that come to our outreach programs, carrying their groceries on the same city bus that they’re on,” she said.

The young people also learn about nutrition from a food service coordinator who talks about healthy eating. The participants also take part in a cost analysis to learn how expensive food is.

First Presbyterian Church young people work at the local food pantry. (Photo by Robyn Michalove)

Participants have a budget and “then have to walk, not ride, to the nearest grocery store and have to buy enough groceries on a budget and come back and prepare a meal. It’s really hands-on,” said Michalove. Participants also work at a food bank and learn about hunger.  Michalove says the camp shows young people how hunger impacts people in their own town, which is an important realization for them — that there are hungry people in their own community.

“They are energized by serving, and it really activates faith in children,” she said. “It’s the hands-on work.”

First Presbyterian Church is a Hunger Action Congregation, recognized by the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) for the work it does to help people within its community. For the past 20 years, the church has operated a food pantry at a separate location. It includes a sack lunch ministry and groceries. Michalove says they see approximately 1,200 people a month.

Rebecca Barnes, coordinator for PHP, says, “Faith communities have a clear call to attend to those who are facing hunger and poverty. PHP celebrates churches like First Presbyterian, who do important hunger alleviation and hunger education in their own communities. While we cannot fully comprehend what it is like to live in daily struggle to put food on the table, getting a glimpse of those challenges — like at this camp — is a wonderful way to begin cultivating compassion, curiosity and a heart to combat systemic issues of hunger and poverty. We know that we’re called to feed those who are hungry, but also to think about underlying issues such as child nutrition, employment, housing and more. First Presbyterian is working on many levels to address hunger.”

Rick Jones, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Texas Kids Attend Camp Experiencing the Daily Struggle of Hunger

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Marissa Shearon, PMA
Ellen Sherby, PMA

Let us pray:

Creator God, give us grace to take your good gifts and share them far and wide, that all may come to know your abundant love. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 104; 149
First Reading Judges 16:1-14
Second Reading Acts 7:30-43
Gospel Reading John 5:1-18
Evening Psalms 138; 98