Help for hungry kids in the downtown core

Ruth and Naomi’s Mission has brainstormed a way to help feed hungry children in Chilliwack — at least while the teachers’ strike is on.

Ruth & Naomi’s Mission executive director Bill Raddatz and cook Steve Ivan are cooking up a plan to feed lunch to kids during the teachers’ strike.

Ruth and Naomi’s Mission has brainstormed a way to help feed hungry children in Chilliwack — at least while the teachers’ strike is on.

They are reaching out to the community in the downtown core since some of the free meal programs for inner-city kids are now on hold pending resolution of the labour dispute.

They became aware of a gaping need around the downtown core, and took action, said Bill Raddatz, executive director of Ruth and Naomi’s Mission. They are joining forces with Bowls of Hope to provide nutritious lunches and snacks.

It’s students who would have otherwise been helped through programs at McCammon, Bernard, Little Mountain and Central elementary schools.

“Speaking with some of the principals of these schools, we estimate that roughly 30 kids per school are going hungry every day,” said Raddatz.

That’s about 120 at least. Many of these young learners have lunch and then go hungry until the next day.

“They go without snacks after school and no dinner,” he said. “So we here are, coming to bat for these kids.”

Here is the plan:

“Those (families and the students) who counted on the lunch program at the above listed schools, can come to the Mission on Monday to Fridays for lunch,” Raddatz told The Progress.

Lunch will be served from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. starting Monday, Sept. 15. Bowls of Hope is working on the soup aspect, while the Mission will do the sandwiches and snacks.

“We will continue to provide this service until the strike is over.”

The folks at the downtown mission are not stopping with lunch. They also plan to start a Family Feast hour between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“This is for the poor and working poor of Chilliwack who only qualify for this new service if they have children.

“All children must be accompanied by a legal guardian.  This meal service will be offered daily except Sundays.

They’re looking at their Sunday programming and the plan is to have something in place by November.

They’re working with the faculty and PAC of Chilliwack Central Elementary School with an eye to “stepping up and providing snacks for their after school program,” as well.

The meal provision will be addressing hunger in the neighbourhood in a practical way.

“We’re giving them hope and showing we care,” he said. “We at Ruth and Naomi’s are reaching out in an effort to address some immediate needs but also we are doing so as a step of faith in our city.”

They are relying on the town’s “good citizens, businesses, and our churches” to help fund these ventures.

A $100 donation feeds 30 kids a nutritious meal, he added.

Ruth and Naomi’s Mission is located at 46130 Margaret Ave.

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