Volunteers at the Faith Lutheran Church of Lakewood worked during this year’s spring break to help provide a place for local students to come have lunch and hang out.
The church, located by Lakewood High School, is trying to reach out more to help local students.
“We’re kind of converting the church from solely being a church environment to providing student services,” said Ryan Brown, the mission developer at Faith Lutheran Church of Lakewood.
“The school district became very obvious as a place to support, and we asked ourselves what we could do for the kids and creating a space for them was a good first step,” he said.
Although the church has had a summer break lunch program for a couple of years, this is the first time they have provided lunch during spring break.
“We actually contacted the superintendent’s office and this was the first thing he named,” said Brown.
Many students came out to the church each day for the program.
“We said that if we hit 10 to 12 kids each day that would be a success and we’ve hit around 55 kids every day,” said Brown.
Jeff Sowards, co-coach of the Lakewood High School track team, said that his students enjoyed coming out to the lunches.
“I think this is an awesome idea and it kind of worked out that the track team’s practice got done when they’re starting here,” he said. “The services that they are going to provide are pretty amazing for our community as well."
Lakewood student Sean Spencer said he enjoyed coming out to the church for the lunches.
“I think that this is a great thing. It’s nice for us to hang out and there’s a lot of stuff to do,” he said.
Brown said that many of the students came out for the full time to play games after their lunch was done.
The lunches themselves are meant to help fill the gap where student school lunches normally would be.
“A lot of these kids are in positions in life where they’re not having consistent meals at home, maybe not having dinners, or maybe what meals they are having, there’s not much substance there,” Brown said.
School often provides a place where kids can get meals, however when school is on break they sometimes don’t have many other places to go, said Brown.
The Faith Lutheran Church did some fundraising to help fund the lunches and they also got help from local restaurants and businesses who each sponsored one of the days.
Participating businesses include the local Costco, Mod Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotle.
Brown said that the church plans to continue implementing student initiatives in the coming months and years.
“We started doing some renovations here, it looks a lot different than a normal church,” he said, “with the intent that kids can just come here, do their homework, have a place to land after school."
They also hope to provide mental healthcare opportunities for students at the church as well.
“It’s hard for students to get access to mental health care so one of the things we would like to do is fundraise and get a mental health clinician here that kids could access for low-cost or for free,” he said.
More information about the church is available at flclakewood.org.