For over a year, NBC covenant partners have been diligently working in Birmingham, Alabama, to address the issue of childhood hunger. Last Thursday, covenant partners came together to pack food for underserved children. Through the power of cooperation, these covenant partners packed 2.5 tons or 1,080 backpacks full of nutritious food for the children of Birmingham.
“As followers of Christ, when we see human needs, we meet them,” said Pastor Chris Hamlin. “People need food and we are preparing it. That’s God. It’s not enough to preach it and teach it. My hands and feet have to move.”
The Covenant, which was founded in 2014, brings together Baptists in a multiracial partnership to advance Jesus’ Luke 4:18 mandate to, “bring good news to the poor.” Since this covenant was formed, Tabernacle Baptist Church, the Baptist Church of the Covenant, and Vestavia Hills Baptist Church have faithfully worked together to address food insecurity through the Weekender’s Backpack Program of the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. This unity and fellowship demonstrates how action and reconciliation can transform a community and bring us closer to God’s Kingdom on earth.
The Weekender’s Backpack Program works with school guidance counselors to identify families in need. Many of the families live in neighborhoods that can be described as food deserts, where fresh produce and other nutritious groceries are not readily available. Through their work, they make sure that the students and their families have enough food to make it through the weekend. These students qualify for subsidized school lunch, which includes meals Monday through Friday. Each “backpack” that gets sent home with a student has 8 lbs. of food for the weekend, and more for holidays including Christmas and Easter.
“Birmingham can still sometimes feel like we’re living in the 1950s,” said Allan Burton of the Baptist Church of the Covenant. “We are called to not just help the poor, but to engage with the poor, to not just visit the sick, but to make their lives better.”
The Covenant of Action regularly turns out 25 to 50 people and the project is growing – in terms of both volunteers and students served. There is a hope that more churches in Birmingham will join NBC covenant partners and together they will address the injustices of food insecurity in Birmingham, AL.