*Picture taken from Red Bird Mission’s website.
Since its founding in 1921, Red Bird Mission in Clay County, KY has been dedicated to aiding needy families in Appalachia, operating various ministries in the areas of education, health and wellness, community outreach, economic opportunity, and community housing improvement (see Red Bird’s website). They help relieve the food insecurity plaguing 31.4% (1,420) of Clay County’s children and 21.2% (4,560) of its general population (Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2015 report) by operating throughout both the school year and the summer months.
According to Red Bird’s Women’s and Children’s Ministries Coordinator Suzanne Pohli, “Most of our youth are considered ‘at risk’ for [lacking] nutritious food, so we try to meet those needs by making sure our camp is providing nutritious hot lunches, as well as breakfast and snacks.”
Pohli, in addition to the college intern and four local teen leaders she oversees, operates a free summer day camp featuring Bible-based scripture lessons, life skills activities, games, crafts, and summer meals during each 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. camp day. The free camp also offers extended day care for working parents.
Red Bird Mission aims to keep its meals simple and easy to prepare for its cook, who also prepares meals for those working and volunteering in their Work Camp program providing home repair to low-income residents in the county.
“The kids’ favorites are hot dogs and hamburgers, or chicken nuggets,” said Pohli, “[but] the main thing about summer feeding is knowing that our community youth are getting healthy foods, at least a couple of days a week. For a few of our youth, this may be the only meal they get.”
As part of her work at Red Bird Mission, Pohli also facilitates an after-school enrichment program at the mission’s K-12 Christian school during the months when school is in session, which is offered to Clay County families regardless of their ability to pay. She works with four different food pantries and one baby pantry in the course of her outreach efforts.
“I am very blessed to be part of the ministry team,” said Pohli.
Red Bird Mission will serve lunch from 11:15-11:45 a.m. and afternoon snack from 2:00-2:15 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday until July 20. Find them on our summer meals map!