Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum Meal Packet Program at TJMC
The Social Action Collection for this month is collected on December for our own Religious Education service project to support the Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS).
Two or three times each year our children in Religious Education use their Sunday school time to assemble hundreds of meal packets for the Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS, interfaithumanitariansanctum.org). The IHS assists people who have to travel great distances to the University of Virginia Medical Center for treatment. These people have no family or friends here to help and no money to for a hotel room and food for the patient’s caregiver. Often our support goes to patients who are here for multiple outpatient appointments or oncology treatment. Hospital social workers determine eligibility for this support and contact the IHS for services including hotel rooms, car seats for babies and boosters for children whose seats were destroyed in car accidents, emergency taxi or bus fare, and meal packets.
Our Religious Education program invented the “Meal Packet” in 2010 as a way to help family members who accompanied their babies and children to the UVA Medical Center intensive care unit. A meal packet is a one-gallon zip lock bag that holds enough food to feed one person for one day. We set up several classrooms with boxes or tables filled with microwaveable entrees, protein bars, prepared tuna salad with crackers, canned fruit, pudding cups and snacks. The children make hand-made cards for the recipients, send the packets through “inspection” to be sure they are complete, and bag the meals up for delivery to the IHS.
The meal packets go to the UVA Medical Center as needed to fill supply closets in the social work office, various intensive care units and the emergency room. Many recipients will live off our meal packets for days and days while they are here in our community. They are the difference between eating or not eating for many people.
Since our RE program’s initial gift of 24 meals (woo hoo!), our church has donated over 2,500 packets. Our children at TJMC are proud of their leadership in the IHS Meal Packet project. They teach newcomers to their classes about its purpose and how to assemble the meals. It is a lot of fun to do and, with careful shopping our children can feed a person at the hospital for one day for about $6.00. What better way is there to teach and live our UU Purposes and Principles of respecting the inherent dignity of each person and compassion for others? Please, on December 17 give generously to the Social Action Collection for IHS Meal Packets.