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Community members focus on county's hunger issue

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Roughly 30 Shenandoah County citizens met Tuesday in Woodstock to hear from faith-based representatives on how to aid the area's fight against hunger.

Connie Fauber, President of Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries, opened the discussion at Emanuel Lutheran Church and had each individual introduce themselves. Members of churches in Woodstock, Mt. Jackson, New Market, Toms Brook and Strasburg described the various ways their congregations contribute to stopping hunger in the county.

A majority of the churches contribute to food banks and pantries, as well as the Lighthouse Grocery Store and Luke's Backpack.

Luke's Backpack is a program that allows students, who meet certain qualifications and receive parental consent, to take a backpack home over the weekend during the school year. The backpack is filled with enough food for six meals and a few snacks for that child. Food is both donated and acquired through federal funding, since the program is in conjunction with the school system.

It is currently offered at the three county elementary schools, but Fauber said that Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries hopes to spread it to middle schools and possibly preschools in the coming school year.

Fauber also described a new program to Woodstock called "Rising Stars" that will not only feed children, but will also allow academic enrichment to carry into the summer.

The names of children involved in Luke's Backpack was given, with parent permission, to Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries so they could reach out to students. However, Fauber said the program is available to any child aged 8 to 12.

"Rising Stars" participants will go to Emanuel Lutheran Church for four weeks starting July 16, and receive breakfast and lunch, academic mentoring and religious enrichment as well. Fauber said since the program is a pilot one for the town, the number of students will be capped at around 25.

Max Finberg, who works in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, gave attendees an idea of the country's outlook on hunger.

"There are 1 in 7 Americans who don't have enough to eat," he said. Finberg talked a bit about SNAP, what used to be referred to as food stamps, as well free and reduced lunches and nutritional standards in schools.

Finberg said that while about 22 million kids qualify for free or reduced lunches, only one out of every 10 of them are reached during the summer.

"In my 20 years working in D.C. with different programs, I haven't once met anybody who said they want to depend on the government," he said. Because of that mentality, Finberg feels that faith-based partnerships and charities are essential to a community's well being.

Those who attended Tuesday's meeting where asked where to go from here, and the reply was unanimous: forward.

"If we can all come together, we can do so much more," Fauber said. She added that with more connections made throughout organizations in the county, comes more opportunity for grants to help efforts like food banks and pantries.

"Take that loaf of bread that Christ is holding, and spread it out," Fauber said, concluding the meeting.

For more information on Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries, associated programs, and how you can help, go to valleylutherans.wordpress.com or contact Connie Fauber at shenandoahlutheran@gmail.com or 540-436-3449.



Would like to have read more information in this article about who is hungry in our community.

I understand the article is about a faith-based group (Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries) and I applaud their efforts to provide relief to a terrible situation.

But why does providing a child with his/her basic need of having a filled stomach need to be attached to "religious enrichment".

Does that mean that only children of a Protestant persuasion will be among the chosen 25 in the Rising Stars program?

"Roughly 30 Shenandoah County citizens met Tuesday in Woodstock to hear from faith-based representatives on how to combat the area's fight against hunger."

Why would we want to combat the area's fight against hunger? We should be aiding it, instead.

That's a great point Diana. So when will you be starting a program for children, providing them with meals and mentoring? Surely you wouldn't complain about the program the churches are providing without offering one on your own? Right?

My apologies, I meant Diane, not Diana.


Snarks, I hardly think you can say I am complaining when I clearly stated I applaud their efforts.

My question was: Will hungry children who are not Protestant be excluded from the Rising Stars program or will children who are, say, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, be admitted, given food, then mentored in their particular religion?

They certainly will. As soon as you start that program. Be sure to alert the NVD so they can run a story on it!

Why would a group of people moved by their faith in Jesus to help those less fortunate, do so by teaching a different belief? If their Christian faith is the reason they are doing this, why would they then mentor children in a different religion?

As a Christian Church Mission Project, they believe wholeheartedly that teaching children that they are loved by God is just as vital as providing them with food. That teaching them that Jesus loved them enough to sacrifice his life for them is just as important as helping them with reading and writing. How could they possibly be moved to help them, and at the same time teach them something that they don't believe?

You seem to be looking for a reason that the churches are wrong. They aren't. They aren't forcing anyone to accept their belief. They are presenting it, along with food, companionship, caring, and kindness.


Mr. Snarks, I think we must agree to disagree.

I would like to “weigh in” on the discussion about Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries’ Rising Stars summer program. I am a member of the executive board of this organization and was very involved with the planning of the summer program. First of all some facts about why we decided to pilot this model for a summer feeding and enrichment program: after running Luke’s Backpack program during the school term the one question and concern that kept coming into our conservation with educators and others was, what happens to these children when school is not in session? How will they be fed? The SVLM Board, along with educators, concerned citizens and other folks who are part of nonprofit organizations within our county were all voicing the same question and so SVLM began looking for ways to establish a summer feeding program. We researched summer feeding programs throughout the Commonwealth and even throughout the nation.

Mr. Finberg who spoke to the last Tuesday was in Shenandoah County about a year and a half ago speaking with SVLM and others from our county in a meeting much like the one last week. At that time he was Director of Faith Based and Community Programs for feeding the hungry under the Secretary of the US Agricultural Department. Early this year he moved to the White House to head up their Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative. When speaking to us at both of those meetings he educated us about various programs going on throughout the county and about government grants and programs that could help feed the hungry in our own community.
Taking all of this information and talking with a teacher within Shenandoah County who began a summer enrichment program on her own in the Mt. Olive area (in a church) SVLM decided to launch a summer feeding and enrichment program with a pilot program or model which could be replicated throughout the county and allow lots of small programs to grow in “neighborhood” settings. Yes many of these will probably be set up in our community churches, since we don’t have a lot of community centers or facilities to use in our long spread out county.

Now to address Diane’s concerns about us attaching feeding children to "religious enrichment". We are not providing religious enrichment we are providing meals and educational enrichment. The words religious enrichment is misquote in the article. The enrichment part is being planned and taught by a Shenandoah County Public Schools veteran teacher, who is volunteering her time. She will be joined by other volunteer teachers and citizens who will come in to help with things like music, art, physical educ., etc. We are asking for churches and other organizations for volunteers (4or5) to come in and prepare meals on site. We would like these volunteers to come from all parts of the county so they see how such a program might work in their church or community center. We hope to enrich and teach adults and children alike! We do not care about a child’s color, cultural heritage or religious persuasion. We simply want to feed the hungry in Shenandoah County.

So please stop" snarking", whatever that is? If you have questions or concerns please feel free to contact me shenandoahlutheran@gmail.com. And if you would like to the see the program in action or volunteer to help contact me I will make it happen!
Connie Fauber, President, SVLM

I volunteered this past week with the RISING STARS program and it was, as I told my husband, one of the most rewarding times I have experiened recently. The teachers were awesome, "teaching" through games and activities....the kids were learning and did not realize it. Fun! As a worker bee in the kitchen, under the direction of Melinda Sarver Fauber, we made a point of introducing foods to the youngsters that they might not be familiar with. Squash casserole. Craisins in their trail mix. A strip of cucumber, celery and, yes, yellow squash, to dip in their ranch dressing. Opened up lots of conversation. Believe it or not, the kids were adventuresome to at least try these unfamiliar foods, and some even LIKED them. We did say a generic blessing at meals and I had the distinct priviledge to teach them the SUPERMAN PRAYER, taught to me by my own grand children. I came away from each and every day saying thank you for Shenandoah Valley Lutheran Ministries, Luke's Backpack, and this wonderful RISING STARS program. I am ready to sign up for next year. There are always the NAYsayers....but Kudos to those who lead these programs.

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