Mac and cheese Mondays popular

Carla Allen
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Shortly after the noon buzzer they begin trickling up the hill, the few individuals at first quickly turning into a full blown, hungry, invasion.

It’s mac and cheese Monday at the Wesleyan Church and students from the high school on Forest Street are on a well-worn path through the field to the Wesleyan Church next door.

Kyle Belden, youth pastor for Canvas Student Ministries at the church, began offering the occasional free meal to students attending the old high school on Parade Street three years ago.

With the opening of the Forest Street complex, Belden designated every Monday for the free meal. Word spread through social media and by word-of-mouth.

In recent weeks the number of students arriving for the childhood favourite topped 200.

Belden says it’s all part of being a good neighbour and that the students come for a number of reasons.

“Hopefully it’s a combination of the music, good food, the game room and it’s a place to hang out – especially if it’s cold or raining.”

He adds that there are also students who have an honest need for what he calls a nutritious, free lunch.

The event is something that much of the congregation becomes involved in – from donating hundreds of boxes of Kraft dinner, baking sweets for desserts, volunteering their time to prepare the meal, or donating gift cards for milk, butter and disposable plates.

“Because of that, this hasn’t been a huge cost to the youth ministry,” said Belden.

The meal is provided to the students totally free, with “no strings attached,” he says, adding that it’s an opportunity to show youth that the church is not a scary place.

Volunteers begin cooking 70-80 boxes of Kraft dinner at 10 a.m., with others pouring drinks and setting up the serving stations.

After lunch, many of the students stay to play pool or other games.

Three Grade 9 students shared their thoughts on Mac and Cheese Monday.

“I think it’s really cool because people, instead of staying around the school, can come up here and hang out and get a free lunch,” said Kevin Mullen

“It makes Mondays actually worth going to school,” said Will Devine.

“People who don’t have a lot of money, it’s really easy for them to just come and eat for free,” said Matt Hines.

There are approximately 950 students attending the high school. Although the church is serving several hundred students on mac and cheese Mondays, Belden says there is room for more.

“We’re learning something every week but we’ve kind of got it down to a well-oiled machine now.”

Organizations: Wesleyan Church, Canvas Student Ministries

Geographic location: Forest Street, Parade Street

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Recent comments

  • Karen
    January 29, 2013 - 22:46

    This is a great way to do something positive in the community, and foster good relationships with the kids instead of just worrying about the possible negative aspects of having the high school next door. :o)

  • Rosie
    January 29, 2013 - 22:04

    I think it is a fantastic service. My son and his friends look forward to it. It is too bad some people see a need to be mean-spirited in the face of kindness. Reaching out to others is community-spirited, thank you to all the volunteers who are involved.

  • Ron Kelly
    January 29, 2013 - 21:15

    Nice outreach Pastor Belden ... well done.

  • Judy
    January 29, 2013 - 20:51

    Fantastic !!! I LOVE the whole idea !!! Thank you to all the Volunteers !!!

  • Beatrice
    January 29, 2013 - 20:00

    .Thank you Jesus for showing those young impressionable youth that someone really cares.Keep up the good work Pastor Kyle and all the volunteers.

  • Debbie R
    January 29, 2013 - 18:14

    What a wonderful thing that the church is doing. For some kids this may be the best meal that they get all week. Bless you for the good work that you are doing.

  • Mary
    January 29, 2013 - 16:13

    What a wonderful idea. I am amazed at the negative comments on here regarding this, though. A group of volunteers are giving a FREE lunch to students. The students don't have to go far, just across the field. Why is it that because it is being held in a church that it makes the difference? A simple thank you to the volunteers who donate, cook, and do whatever it takes to make this happen is enough. Be positive, be thankful, and if people don't like that is in a church then step up to the plate and start doing something like this yourself.

  • Wanda Snow
    January 29, 2013 - 15:19

    I think it is a terrific outreach. God Bless you!!

  • JM
    January 29, 2013 - 15:03

    I somewhat agree with Stephen C - I'm sure the spirit of giving was the root of this, but you can't tell me it doesn't give the church a thrill to be able to pipe Christian music into the impressionable minds of 200 young people. And KD, brownies, and rice krispie squares a nutritious meal? Give me a break. Probably no better or worse than the slice of pizza they might otherwise have downtown though I guess LOL.

  • Rosanne Ogden
    January 29, 2013 - 13:16

    This is awesome! Great Job Pastor Kyle.... keep on keeping on... This is wonderful for all youth... a great environment, who would't want their child to go... excellent...

  • Stephen Charchuk
    January 29, 2013 - 11:49

    Now they're trying to convert our children like the old soup kitchens of the great depression.

    • Rod
      January 29, 2013 - 13:59

      Great idea. I guess some people would rather the kids to go to drug houses instead!

    • Karen
      January 29, 2013 - 22:51

      If it bothers you to have a Christian church provide a meal to kids who come there voluntarily, then by all means simply tell your own children they aren't allowed to go. Your negativity is misplaced - one would think people would be happy to see the church reaching out and offering kids a place to hang out, in a town where one of the loudest complaints is the lack of safe and appropriate activities for youth.

  • Beverly Pinkney
    January 29, 2013 - 11:03

    Here's to the kids that eat the mac & cheese ☼ I salute!