Bible camp season may be over, but a group of Winnipeggers continue to minister to youth using food.
In the summer, Sharon Steward, the head chef with Pioneer Camps Manitoba, learned she would be unable to feed campers in person this year and created hampers for over 250 families. In total, their Community Food Share Program made 20,000 meals. This Christmas, Steward is doing it again on a more intimate scale.
"With the Christmas season coming up, and with us who have been in camp ministry we have been really reflecting on how we can continue reaching the families we would have otherwise reached this summer through kids coming to camp."
With money from Food Rescue and donations from individuals, and pairing with the Manitoba Camping Association to identify the need, Steward and her team will be filling the fridges of 25 families.
"I wish I could be a bug on the wall at these houses when the boxes get unpacked. Just the memories and the thoughts it is going to create from the kids as they think about other summers that they spent at camp."
Steward says that food has a lot of memories involved and understands that camp food had particular meaning for some.
"It is just a great chance to love on our neighbours and bring some joy and encouragement to some people."
Some of the meals will be camp meals and each hamper will have the camp cookbook. She says if they get more funds of donations, the money will go towards making more hampers.
Her team will be packing the hampers. Having no shortage of volunteers, Steward says one of the most difficult parts is making sure they keep their staff numbers under five.
"When there are just five people restrictions and we can spread out in the church space that we are packing these hampers that is really great."
Just as Steward did in the spring, she says families can order their own hampers for themselves or others.
Steward says Christmas hampers are something she has been involved with in some form throughout her life.
"I don't know if it was growing up in the church, Christmas hampers are just something that you know always happens at Christmas. As a person who has been in ministry, our family ourselves, we have received Christmas hampers before and I have felt first hand how impactful and meaningful that is."
The chef says they are also creating hampers on the behalf of churches and can make more if requested.
The hampers are being donated to families in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba. She says they are in need of volunteer drivers to distribute the food.
Update: Since publishing this story, Steward received a donation of 200lbs of protein items from a Sobeys. She says it is "truly an answer to prayer."