Mission u, formerly the School of Mission, is credited for inspiring a weekly high school lunch program in Del City that has continued beyond its 20th anniversary.
After six hours studying "Making the World Safe for Children" — the social action topic — the plan in 1995 was for United Methodist Women at Sunny Lane UMC to feed students at the high school next door to the church.
"God placed our church next to Del City High School, and it might be a wonderful idea to offer lunch once a week to the students," member Fran Harbert recommended.
"Lunch Bunch" was launched in October 1995. Students in grades nine through 12 paid $2 each for pizza, cookies, and a drink. Youth Director Stuart Malloy greeted them and gave a prayer and devotion.
The program started with about 25 students and soon grew to 100.
The UMW circles continue to take turns preparing and serving lunch to the youths next door, but the program now focuses on ninth-graders. Those students are not allowed to leave campus for lunch on their own but, accompanied by one or two teachers, they can take part in the meal at Sunny Lane.
What is now called "Fresh Lunch" offers chili-cheese nachos, corn dogs, pizza, hoagie sandwiches, and sloppy joes, as well as cookies and drinks. Today the meal is free to the students. Attendance varies from 75 to 100.
Youth minister Harold Smith gives a prayer, devotion, Bible trivia, or life lesson.
UMW member Jacci Freno said the goal is "to introduce youth to the church, make them feel welcomed, inform them of activities, and let them know our doors (lead to) a place of love and safety."
In July each year, Mission u spotlights three topics for study and encourages follow-up action. The topics emphasize spiritual growth, a geographic region of the world, and social action. Enrollment is open to men and women, youths and children.
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