Church aims to feed thousands

Staff photo: Crystal Mondragon Beverly Brielle of Clovis helps her son Jaiden Brielle drink the rest of his milk as her niece Janelle Garcia watches Wednesday at Hillcrest Park.

Staff photo: Crystal Mondragon
Beverly Brielle of Clovis helps her son Jaiden Brielle drink the rest of his milk as her niece Janelle Garcia watches Wednesday at Hillcrest Park.

By Crystal Mondragon
Staff Writer
cmondragon@cnjonline.com

Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Program Director Johnny Chavez are out to feed every hungry child in Clovis through a free summer food program.

The USDA program is for all children ages 1-18.

Chavez said he knows  there are “thousands of kids out here and we want to feed them all.”

Chavez said the program offers a well balanced meal every day and salads every Thursday. The church doesn’t require any food donations or take any money for the program other than the USDA grant money.

Kids are allowed second helpings once all others present are fed. Children can come alone but parents are also welcome to buy a lunch for $3. Meals do have to be eaten on site to a ensure children are being fed properly.

The program, intended to take the place of meals children would usually get at school, continues through most of summer vacation until Aug. 1.

Sacred Heart began the program several years ago, according to Chavez, then Our Lady of Guadalupe church ran it for 24 years. Now its back at Sacred Heart and this is the third year.

“All churches are invited to participate to bring their children to enjoy the free food,” said Chavez.

Chavez noted Southwest Cheese donates cheese to help with the program.

One of the sites Chavez takes particular pride is Sunrise Park because of the history.

Originally, children were fed under the porch of a vacant trailer at Sunrise, a transitional neighborhood. Volunteers in the community came together and built a patio with a roof and students from Choices drew some beautiful artwork designs on the tables purchased by Chavez.

“We had a lot of contractors that donated their time to build a porch and a patio,” Chavez said.

Chavez said sometimes during the program the mayor or Clovis City Commissioners hand out sack lunches. Chavez said there have been times for the elected officials it “bring tears to their eyes knowing that some children do not have a meal every day.”

Serafino Cordova and David Garcia work at the Hillcrest Park site passing out the lunches.

“It’s great being out here, I get to know the kids and families,” Garcia said. “I get the opportunity to watch the kids grow.”

“I enjoy helping feeding the kids, I have been working here for awhile,” Cordova said.

Sandra Moreno brings her four children almost every day and has for the last seven years.

“It’s healthy and free,” Moreno said.

Hollie Vargas brings her niece, nephews and grandson because “it’s at the park and it’s a wholesome lunch,” she said. “My grandson likes it all.”

Keyshahw Kirven, 13, said, “We get to sit outside, enjoy the nature and it’s real peaceful.”

Bella Kirven said, “The food is good,” and her favorite is the salad.

Isaac Allen said he gets  “to hang out with family and friends.”

Breakfast is 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Meals will be provided at the following meal site locations:

• 1st United Methodist Church, 1501 Sycamore. (also breakfast)

• 801 Housing,  4000 Lew Wallace. (also breakfast)

• Barbara Ann’s Day Care, 108 West 21st St. (also breakfast)

• Bella Vista Arts Academy, 2900 Cesar Chavez. (also breakfast)

• Dennis Chavez Park, 14th and Edwards. (also breakfast)

• Doc Stewart Pavilion New Mexico Dr., Chavez Manor

• Hawkins Preschool, 1605 Sheldon. (also breakfast)

• Highland Park, Main & Manana. (also breakfast)

• La Casita School, 4th & Davis. (also breakfast)

• Lions Park Zoo, Garwood, Texico.

• Maria’s Montessori Day Care, 3316 Lilac Rd. (also breakfast)

• Patrick Sandoval Park, 200 Rencher.

• Potter Park, Grand & Upsilon.

• Rierson Park, Hammett & Bonnie Lane.

• Sacred Heart Church, 911 Merriwether. (also breakfast)

• Sandia School, 2801 Lore St. (also breakfast)

• Sunrise Park, 820 1/2 S. Prince St.

• Sunset Park, Grand St. & Moreno.

• Toyland Day Care, 1000 Gidding St. (also breakfast)

• Youth Recreation Building, 705 Sycamore St. (also breakfast)

For information call: 762-2602.