Nathaniel Quimby spent the summer of second grade worried about his friends. The elementary schooler fretted that a friend who depended on cafeteria meals would go hungry during the break.
“He wanted to know where kids got their meals during the summer when schools close,” says Ingrid Quimby, Nathaniel’s mother. “We came up with the idea of the Breakfast Club. With my pastor at Cedar Grove United Methodist Church, we decided to offer breakfast there.”
Using her son’s idea and the Deale church’s resources, Quimby organized a group to serve breakfast, publicized the meal and prepared for an onslaught of hungry children.
The offering, started with the best of intentions in 2009, flopped.
“We had two people the first day,” Quimby says. The problem wasn’t the idea; it was the location. So the Cedar Grove Breakfast Club became a moveable feast.
Tracey’s Elementary School guidance counselors suggested Lyons Creek and Patuxent Mobile Home Estates in Lothian, where the club began serving up to 250 breakfasts, packed in brown paper bags, each week.
The Breakfast Club’s next outreach was due to divine intervention.
At the first End Hunger Anne Arundel Coalition meeting, Breakfast Club volunteers met Lothian’s Mount Zion UMC congregants in search of a community outreach project. Quimby paired with Anne Herche, wife of Zion’s pastor Bill Herche, to expand the Breakfast Club to three mobile home parks and more than 900 children.
“I coordinate volunteers, and Anne coordinates products,” Quimby says. “It’s no more than an hour and a half a day, but it is a five-day-a-week job.”
“It’s a New Testament story of five loaves and two fishes,” says Pastor Jack Thomas of Mount Zion. He and Herche oversee the packing at Mt. Zion before drivers head for the three parks. “If you get an assembly line of five or six people packing, they can pack 100 bags in 30 minutes.”
Senior ladies and youth groups from both churches provide much of the labor.
Though the Breakfast Club has become a constant, the menu varies. Children can expect milk, juice and fruit every day, along with a rotating menu of string cheese, yogurt, pop tarts, honey buns, cereal and more.
“It fosters a sense of community,” Thomas says. “People who don’t have much affiliation with a church feel almost a barrier that the churches only help their own. We’re trying to break that barrier.”
Corporate sponsorship now makes the job easier. BB&T donated $1,000 in food products, including non-breakfast items, which the church distributes each week to families in need.
Quimby and Thomas hope to further expand their efforts.
“We serve children first, then provide for others,” Quimby says. “We’d love to include other churches, other parks and get this type of program to continue throughout the year and throughout the county.”
Call either church to help or donate: Mount Zion: 410-867-4035; Cedar Grove: 410-867-7417.