Local non-profit involved in summer food program

The non-profit 4 Rivers Ministry International, Inc. has accepted the mantle in a cause to help feed local children.

The Stockbridge-based organization, formerly known as Feed My People, is joining other non-profits throughout the Southern Crescent in helping facilitate the Summer Food Service Program.

Officials explained that the program — funded the U.S. Department of Agriculture through Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning — is designed to fill a nutrition gap that may widen during the summer months when children are not in school, where they receive food services from the National School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs.

"This is the first time we've participated," said Rosalind Bishop, director of programs for 4 Rivers Ministry. She is also the non-profit's summer food program administrator.

Bishop said she joined the organization as project coordinator to introduce 4 Rivers Ministry to various programs in which it could participate to fulfill its mission.

"This is very near and dear to my heart," she said. "The mission of the organization is to feed the community and to feed the people. So many children are going without even a meal a day. This is our way to give back."

Bishop acknowledged that, while other non-profits have been sponsoring sites for the summer food service program, 4 Rivers Ministry began distributing meals in earnest on Tuesday, July 5.

The organization will be sponsoring the program through Aug. 5, she added. Until then, needy families in Clayton and Henry counties will be able to receive a free lunch on weekdays at three different open sites — 4 Rivers Ministry, at 6045 North Henry Blvd. in Stockbridge; Eureka Masonic Lodge, at 109 Church St. in Stockbridge; Trinity Performing Arts Academy, at 369 McDonough Pkwy. in McDonough.

"I think it's a really, really good program," said Chris Scott, owner of Trinity Performing Arts Academy. "If just one parent comes out to feed their child for a day or a week, then I believe it will have served a purpose."

Bishop said the ministry's goal is to serve more than 400 area children each day through the summer food service program.

"Seventy percent of the students in the areas where we are located receive free or reduced [priced] lunch at school," said Bishop, citing statistics provided Bright from the Start.

The program administrator noted the meals are provided free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. She said there is no limit to the number of children who can be served, if there is advance notice of the need.

"We prepare the meals based on the amount of children that appeared the day before," she continued. Presently, there are 15 volunteers, who include site supervisors and monitors, who deliver and keep track of meals in the program.

Bishop said the meals are served daily, Monday through Friday, promptly from 12:15 p.m., until 1:15 p.m., and there are no requirements for children to receive a free meal.

To learn more about 4 Rivers Ministry International, Inc., visit www.4riversministries.org. Large groups of children (more than 10) must call (678) 565-7800 before attending.

To find a list of other non-profit sites and times for meal pick-ups, or to learn more about the Summer Food Service Program, visit www.decal.ga.gov, or visit www.summerfood.usda.gov.