What Are Two Lunch Tuesdays?
Two Lunch Tuesdays is a volunteer initiated program managed in schools by individual PTA’s (Parent Teacher Association’s) parental volunteers and students. The program helps to fight poverty in the community while at the same time engaging volunteers and students in the schools with the value of giving back by helping to feed those in need. The program also helps to cultivate an awareness of hunger, and needs of homelessness in communities, while providing a safe and consistent platform for students to learn the joy of paying it forward to those less fortunate.
Depending on the school PTA’s personal commitment, the interval at which the program is ran varies from once a month to once a week.
Each time a Two Lunch Tuesday is held, students and parents are notified in the school prior to the Tuesday on which the lunches are collected. Students and parents then get involved by preparing an extra sack lunch made on that Tuesday, in addition to their own which they normally bring to school. The additional sack lunches are then gathered by the students and the PTA volunteer coordinators at the school. The donated sack lunches are then picked up by Broken Chains Ministry volunteers, and then distributed to the homeless throughout the Las Vegas valley.
How It Started
Two Lunch Tuesdays started in 2009 as a result of teacher, Sherry Essay, at the Del Webb Elementary school in the Anthem area right outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada. She saw a need to help Broken Chains, and wanted to be a part of our work with the homeless. She didn’t know exactly how she wanted to get involved with the positive impact Broken Chains was having with the homeless, but she had an idea. This idea involved getting the kids at her school involved. She approached her school administration with the idea to create an extra curricular activity which the students would be allowed to be involved with, if they made the honor roll.
After this initial request, Sherry received the OK from the school administration to create a program to involved students with helping the needs of homeless in the Las Vegas and Henderson communities.
Honor roll kids were allowed in on the program and started making sandwiches once a month as part of an extra curricular rewards program. At that point, only sandwich making was involved and it didn’t include the entire sack lunch making.
From the success and the fun that the kids were having, word through a school administrative meeting passed around the school district. This culminated in the development of another school (Scholfield Elementary) finding out from Del Webb and jumping on board with the idea.
As word got around to different schools, an active PTA mom, Beth Mundo, found out about schools helping out Broken Chains Ministry. She wanted to be a part. She called up Broken Chains Ministry and asked Pastor Cody if he could meet with her and some moms to tell his story. She brought five other PTA moms to hear Pastor Cody’s story over coffee, at which they asked what they could do for the ministry that would be beneficial?
Then the brain storming began that birthed the idea of Two Lunch Tuesdays.
Shortly after the meeting, Charlotte Hill was brought on board as a result of Beth and the other PTA mom’s work as the first school to start the Two Lunch Tuesday program around Thanksgiving in 2010. It began however, not by making sandwiches, but as a quick fix to a problem. The problem resulted from the school having so much food from Thanksgiving week parties, they didn’t know what to do with it. One of the parents involved suggested they call Broken Chains Ministry. She arranged to have Pastor Cody pick up the extra food so that they could take it to the parks, and elsewhere in the city, to feed the homeless. Pastor Cody was so excited to give it away he couldn’t get it to the homeless fast enough!
From that point forward the Two Lunch Tuesday program has seen more and more success as more schools and PTA parents join in the joy of leading the children by example of giving through Two Lunch Tuesdays.
How The Word Spread
In 2014 KTNV aired a segment during their nightly local news. This interview is what really built the momentum and exposure in our community.
The full article and news clip are located here: http://www.jrn.com/ktnv/news/better-lv/Clark-County-lunch-program-helps-feed-those-in-need-236263111.html
After the airing of that segment, the program really took off and gained massive exposure which perpetuated greater interest from other school PTA’s.
In 2014 the Nevada State PTA held their national convention in Las Vegas where they asked Pastor Cody to share about how the program started, and how the success has continued. Pastor Cody shared what a blessing that these sandwiches have been to so many people and the impact it makes on the homeless out on the streets.
At the end of Pastor Cody’s presentation, the PTA association of Nevada surprised him by presenting him and Broken Chains Ministry with the Bob Huwe Community Involvement Award. This award was in recognition of Broken Chains as a result of the impact that this program has had; not only on the homeless, but also on those involved in the schools, and in the PTA with their involvement in the program.
One of the special things that happens with many of the schools is that the kids provide not only lunches, but share something personal that is unique in each lunch. From a personal, handwritten note, providing a message of encouragement, to a hand drawn picture to bring a smile to any face, they all receive a personal touch. The students not only provide physical food for the homeless, but a heartwarming personal touch to bring light and cheer to those who often live with so much hurt and pain.
Where It’s Grown To
Broken Chains Ministry now has twenty-eight Two Lunch Tuesday Schools involved in the Las Vegas valley. This is in addition to the program that the original school, Del Webb, still takes part of in making sandwiches for Broken Chains Ministry volunteers to distribute to the homeless. The students at Del Webb still make sandwiches twice a month that Broken Chains Ministries picks up and distributes for them to the homeless.
The program has not found confinement to just the Las Vegas valley. In fact, it’s spreading all over the state, and country.
One day a gentleman in Reno called Broken Chains, after finding our number from the local PTA in Reno, Nevada. He asked how he could start the program in his community to feed the homeless. Now as a result of the effectiveness, and following the examples of the schools in Las Vegas, parents, students, schools and volunteers in the Reno area now have connected and are helping grow the success of Two Lunch Tuesdays in that city.
Broken Chains Partnering To Deliver Greater Success of Two Lunch Tuesdays
The program has become so big in Las Vegas that Broken Chains Ministry is now partnering with other organizations and supplying them consistently by giving these lunches through our charity networks. This in turn helps to multiply the effectiveness that the students, PTA and other volunteers have with this program to feed those in need whom they serve on a consistent basis.
Some of the other organizations that now receive these lunches from Broken Chains Ministry includes:
This is in addition to those lunches that we hand out the second Tuesday of the month on the streets directly to the homeless.
What’s The Secret To A Successful Two Lunch Tuesday Program?
The key is the PTA volunteers, not the school district, and the biggest part are of course the KIDS. The volunteer PTA parents are the ones that drive the success, and help to engage the schools administration in the consistency of developing the program with the students.
Also, it needs to be mentioned that in no aspect of this program do the schools pay for the lunches. The kids bring everything as donations and then build and give them out.
The Core Values Seen From Two Lunch Tuesdays By Schools and PTA’s
The involvement of the children is what touches the hearts of the homeless and those of us involved in distributing the lunches. These kids are so dedicated and involved. They are the heart of this outreach and program. The students write notes, color pictures, and place them in each bag to add an encouraging touch to each individual lunch.
What If Donating Lunches Are NOT An Option?
There is one school in particular who wanted to join in the program in Las Vegas, but the schools’ students did not bring their own sack lunch. What we found successful is to partner with this school in a different way where the students donate other items that they bring on designated days. These items include new items such as toiletries, socks, underwear, and snacks.
The point of success is in partnering consistently in the giving that in turn cultivates an environment of generosity with those involved; not necessarily making sure the gift that is given is identical to others.
Guidelines We Have Established To Maintain Integrity and Success of Two Lunch Tuesdays
We stipulate and have made agreements with the partner organizations that help us distribute these lunches. These organizations MUST agree that the lunches provided only will go to the homeless and those in need. The lunches CANNOT be given to those already in programs who are not on the streets anymore. The focus is to help out those who need it most with these lunches; and that’s exactly what these lunches do.
Where The Success Continues To Grow For Two Lunch Tuesdays In Las Vegas
Pastor Joe, from the Fellowship of God in Las Vegas, helps to pick up these sandwiches with trucks and trailers. The lunches that his team picks up goes to those desperate and alone in some of the hardest to reach, and roughest communities of Las Vegas. Many of these children and adults feel alone, abandoned, forsaken, taken advantage of sexually and are at the lowest point a person could possibly think of with living.
All of the homeless, prostitutes, and others they reach, see teams from Pastor Joe and his fellowship who go out and find those desperately needing food and others in poor neighborhoods so they can share the love of Jesus and deliver these lunches. Poverty stricken neighborhoods in North Las Vegas know every Tuesday night they’ll get food and hear a loving message of hope. All of this thanks to the start and personal touch from the love and care provided by students and adults in the PTA programs throughout Las Vegas at different schools who volunteer and give to make the Two Lunch Tuesday programs a success.
How Many Lunches Are We Talking About?
Currently, on the average 4000 lunches are picked up each month total from all the schools that are involved in this program in the Las Vegas valley. This does not include the once a month sandwich program and other external spin-off programs that have started as a result of those being involved initially with Two Lunch Tuesdays. However, these numbers are growing rapidly as others join the program.
In the 2015-2016 annual school cycle we had 30,423 lunches donated and delivered to the hands of the homeless and needy in the Las Vegas community. This doubled the amount of lunched donated and volunteers involved just from the year previously where Broken Chains Ministry collected almost 14,000 lunches for distribution throughout Las Vegas.
How are they distributed?
Volunteers from Broken Chains and other ministries are involved in distributing them throughout the Las Vegas Valley and to our other partner organizations.
How many schools are currently involved in Las Vegas?
Currently, twenty-eight schools are involved in the program in some point or another with consistently taking part in Two Lunch Tuesdays. This is up from nineteen schools who were involved in 2015.
How is it growing?
Up to this point, the program has all completely grown by word of mouth throughout the community.
What is the response from the homeless when receiving one of the lunches?
Every time a lunch is handed out to a homeless and they’re told that a kid made this for them, they tear up. They ask, “Why would anyone care enough about me to personally make me a lunch?” They are all so grateful for what they’re given.
Two Lunch Tuesdays Community
Find out more information and see the running list of communities schools that are involved in Two Lunch Tuesday Programs in Vegas and in other communities visit our Two Lunch Tuesdays Partners page.