Gisele McKnight February 1, 2022
Inner City Youth Ministry has been very busy over the years putting the 3rd Mark of Mission into action: To respond to human need by loving service.
But ICYM’s director, Erin Rideout, believes now is the time to also act on number five: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
“While we’re working on the 3rd Mark of Mission, we’re also thinking of the 5th,” she said. “It’s an easy and natural thing.”
Under its Lunch Connection program, ICYM provides 1,200 lunches a week to children in six Saint John area schools. But what used to be a hot meal prepared in the schools and served on washable plates, has become an off-site bag lunch production line, due to pandemic rules that have kept them out of the schools.
All those paper bags add up — in cost and in waste. Though they were composting and recycling, they felt there was more they could do.
“Our environmental footprint went way up,” said Erin of the switch to bag lunches. “We’re thinking of the future and a more sustainable option.”
What they came up with was a washable cloth bag with drawstring closure to hold the lunch. Their prototype is a finished bag that is seven inches wide and 11 inches long, with a two-drawstring closure, which is more child-friendly.
They need 1,200 bags to start. Ideally, they’d like to have double that number so they a two-week rotation. Their aim is to have all the bags by summer, and a volunteer team in place to wash them. Erin is hoping those who cannot sew might instead want to join the laundry team.
To get started, they are relying on anyone who can sew to join them. They are also looking for donations of cotton fabric, drawstring made of fabric or shoelaces, and thread. Fabric donations can be scraps as small as 27 by 9.5 inches, or smaller if seamstresses can patch pieces together.
They’d love to have cotton fabric that is kid-friendly. No skulls or other such patterns, please.
“I’m just learning to sew and it came together pretty easily for me,” said Erin of her first attempt. “We’re hoping it might be a great family project.”
The pattern is easy enough to be a first project for young seamstresses, she said, though a sewing machine is pretty much a necessity.
The bags will hold the lunch foods they include now: fruit, cut vegetables, crackers, dried fruit, seeds and yogurt. But they chose the size so it will accommodate any other foods they might eventually include.
Instructions are available on youtube. Donations of fabric and thread, as well as the finished products, and, of course, cash donations, can be dropped off weekday mornings at Stone Church, 87 Carleton St., Saint John.
A second drop-off location has been added: the lobby of Cathedral Memorial Hall in Fredericton. Times: During Level 2, the hall is open 9 a.m.-12 noon Monday-Friday.
Finally, Erin has asked readers to share this story with friends and family so that the 2,400 lunch-bag project can become a reality.
Read the article here: https://nb.anglican.ca/news/inner-city-youth-ministry-green-initiative-invokes-5th-mark-of-mission