For all of its cultivated acres of corn and beans, and super farms raising hogs and chickens, Ohio remains one of the top five states leading the nation in food insecurity (defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest published figures.
In the so-called land of plenty, it is hard to imagine that children could go to bed without having eaten an evening meal.
Sadly, this is a very real possibility for some children in Madison County.
Tracy Kronk, president of the Christian-based, nonprofit organization Sufficient Grace, Inc., endeavors to put an end to hunger for the county’s less advantaged children while spreading spiritual encouragement at the same time.
Kronk first became aware that there was a problem for some kids getting enough to eat in 2012 when she was volunteering as an in-class aide at Norwood Elementary School in West Jefferson.
One day she asked the young boy she was assigned to sit with how his three-day weekend had gone, and was stunned when he replied that he dreaded long weekends because that without school lunches, he was going mostly without meals.
“I couldn’t work with him and do nothing about helping him. Not being able to eat is a bigger problem than tutoring,” she said.
It was shortly thereafter that Kronk contacted the Good Samaritan Food Pantry housed in the United Methodist Church of West Jefferson with the intention of procuring enough food for possibly eight or 10 children, even though she only knew for certain of two that needed assistance at the time — she believed the Lord was already working on her heart to develop some sort of larger program.
From there, Sufficient Grace, Inc. was born.
Kronk set up shop with a little table at West Jefferson’s United Methodist Church, packing bags with meals of donated, non-perishable food items for a few kids.
And like that mustard seed of faith, Sufficient Grace, Inc. grew. The word started to spread, and teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors made her aware of more children who could benefit from the program.
Kronk and her small team of volunteers were making bags for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with additional bags sent home on Fridays for the weekends when the kids wouldn’t be at school.
The organization expanded its services from Norwood Elementary to the other schools in the West Jefferson Local School District, and then into other districts within the county.
In 2014, Monroe Elementary School of Jonathan Alder Local School District in Plumwood was added. It was there that Kronk would meet Heather Hines, a like-minded person who would eventually become Sufficient Grace’s director of operations.
“We receive a lot of community support for which we are very grateful,” said Hines.
All donations given to the organization are tax deductible she said.
Sufficient Grace cannot support its mission without donations from the public or its one corporate sponsor — Country Closet Thrift Store on U.S. Route 42, Plain City.
It costs about $38 a month per child being served, according to Kronk.
In 2017, Sufficient Grace is packing meals for nearly 450 kids in six different school systems — the entirety of West Jefferson, London, Madison-Plains and Southeastern Local School Districts, as well as Fairbanks and Monroe Elementary Schools.
A group of around 25 volunteers, most of whom are retirees, meets Mondays from 10-11:30 a.m. at the West Jefferson United Methodist Church to assemble the week’s meal bags.
“Making the bags is a job. Delivering them is a whole other job,” Kronk said.
Besides the monetary donations to purchase the food items for the bags and the hands needed to assemble them, Kronk sees a need for younger, stronger arms to help deliver the heavy transport containers to the various schools.
Just a little food for thought.
To find out more about Sufficient Grace, Inc., go to the website at www.sufficientgrace2012.org or like their Facebook page.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.