West Texas church”s summer lunch program serves kids in need

HAMLIN Each weekday since May, members of First Baptist Church Hamlin have arrived at the church at around 10 a.m. to prepare food, set tables and greet children as they file in, ready for a home-cooked meal. 

Most of these kids don’t attend FBC Hamlin, but they are welcomed in as part of the church’s communitywide summer lunch program. 

In December, the Hamlin Independent School District reached out to Brandon Carreon, a pastor at FBC Hamlin and member of the HISD Board of Trustees, to ask if the church would consider assisting with a pressing need among its student body.

According to Carreon, about three out of every four children in the school district qualify for free and reduced lunches, and many of these students go without adequate nutrition while school is out from May through August. To help fill in this gap, the district has historically provided free lunches during the summer, but due to budget restrictions, it was unable to do so this year. 

The members of FBC Hamlin agreed not only to assist with the program but also to assume full responsibility of the initiative. 

“As Jesus fed 5,000 people, he didn’t turn them away. He understood that he needed to feed their bellies before he had the opportunity to speak to their hearts. That’s my hope, that we would feed (the students), but that it would be much bigger than that, that folks would come to see Jesus Christ.” 

Brandon Carreon, a pastor at FBC Hamlin and member of the HISD Board of Trustees

“As Jesus fed 5,000 people, he didn’t turn them away.” Carreon said. “He understood that he needed to feed their bellies before he had the opportunity to speak to their hearts. That’s my hope, that we would feed (the students), but that it would be much bigger than that, that folks would come to see Jesus Christ.” 

On average, about 55 children participate in the program each day, as well as several parents.

In addition to leaving with full stomachs, these students are also being prayed for and showered with love and affirmation from the men and women who have volunteered their time each week to ensure the program is a success, said Cindy Reynolds, who coordinates the summer lunch program at FBC Hamlin.

“It’s reaching further than what we could imagine, and what it possibly could do in our church and in our community is just amazing,” Reynolds said. “I know God is doing a much greater work than just feeding children.” 

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