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Have You Ever Thought... What concerns might be behind those Halloween masks?

Have you ever thought about what many of the children appearing at your door in costumes on Halloween night might really need? For many of the little “ghost and goblins,” it is much more than the candy you will give them as you respond to their plea of “trick or treat.” One out of seven children in our state do not know where their next meal is coming from.  Here in Newton County, 70 percent of the children in the system need supplemental help in the lunch programs in their schools.  Have you ever thought what happens to the nutritional needs for these children when school is not in?

Now, this alarming reality is not to take away from the fun of Halloween.  Last year, we had more than 300 children come to our front door. For the most part they seemed to be having a great time and I would not want to take one minute of that fun away from them.  

While for one night we can share this fun of Halloween, the challenge of reaching children that need the nutritional support remains all through the year. Coming up two days after Halloween is a great treat for the children as well as yourself.  Action Ministries here in Covington is sponsoring its second annual “Dine Out, Do Good” event on Nov. 2.   You can select one or two of the participating restaurants and dine out.   The participating restaurants are donating 10 percent of the day’s gross sales to help feed the children of Newton County.

The restaurants you can choose from are Armici’s, Blimpie’s, Bradley’s BBQ, Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe, Buddy’s BBQ, Butcher Block Deli, Chick-fil-A (Newton Plaza), Frank’s Restaurant, Irish Bred Pub, Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, Mamie’s Kitchen Biscuits (Brown’s Bridge Location),  Plain Nuts, Quick Chick, Starvey’s Restaurant, Walden’s,  Where There’s Smoke BBQ (Mansfield), Your Pie, Zaxby’s (Turner Lake, Covington Bypass, and Brown Bridge location).  We appreciate this very generous gift from these establishments.

You can see there is a great variety to select from. Why not choose one for your mid-day meal and another for the evening meal.   Some would lend themselves to getting a cup of coffee and desert or maybe a snack. Remember for this one very special day, they are contributing ten percent of their gross sales to help provide for the children.  Be sure to tell the participating restaurants how much you appreciate what they are doing.

All the money raised will go to pay for the Super Packs  go to feed children right here in Newton County.  Those who are targeted are thought to experience food insecurity when school is not in session.  Working with the Newton County School System, school officials identify the children that need the support and discretionally slip the Super Packs into their backpacks to take home for the weekend.  Each pack contains food for six meals that are child friendly, nutritionally balanced, and easy to open and prepare.  The cost of each Super Pack is about $5, which breaks down to about $0.80 per meal.  

Let me share what one fourth grader wrote for his teacher to give to the people responsible for the food slipped into this backpack.   “Thank you for sending food to our school.  I’m not sure how you heard about us but I am glad you did.  We don’t always have much food to eat at home so this helps a lot.  The apple sauce was so good!  I can’t wait to see what’s in the bag next week.”

This week end support is in addition to Action Ministries’ Smart Lunch Smart Kids programs that helps to feed hundreds of our Newton County Children during the summer break from school.   Nutrition is a vital part of the development of each of our children.

Long after Halloween has come and gone, you can “treat” some very special children with the food they need.  And by participating in “the Dine Out, Do Good” day this coming Thursday, November 2, you can join your friends and neighbors in this effort to reach the children that need a helping hand.

Let us all enjoy this Halloween and help make sure that all the “trick or treater’s” are safe.  We thank the leaders and volunteers of Action Ministries and the participating restaurants for supporting the children of Newton County.    This is a  great example of the school system, the business community, and the community coming together.

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.