Each November, we host a service project called Fishes and Loaves where our children prepare freezer meals for children in foster families. We partner with the 111 Project, but this is an easy service project you could do with your ministry too, no matter where the meals go! (Hint: Check with your Care/Hospitality Team; they’re always looking for meals to bless someone with!)
How it works:
- Collect offering from kids church for a few months, or use money from a designated missions budget.
- Use that money to buy the ingredients yourself. (Use a recipe converter to multiply the number of ingredients you’ll need based on how many meals you’ll make.)
- Invite children and their parents to the service project, then divide the kids into groups of 2-3 and (with an adult), let them get to work making their recipes!
- Freeze the meals immediately and give them to your care team or other ministry partner.
- It’s that easy! In just an hour and a half, 8 kids can prepare 9 freezer meals for families in need. I love it when kids serve kids!
I like to set all of the ingredients and kitchen supplies out on one table so kids can “shop” for the items they need. It helps them learn some life skills (like what a garlic press or lemon zester is) and they are serving others at the same time.
I also divide the kids up into groups of 2-3 with an adult supervising each group. Each group works on a different recipe, but they complete their recipe 3 times, leaving you with 3 meals per group.
You could host it in your church building, but I’ve always hosted it at my house. We were a mobile church, so we didn’t have a building anyway, but hosting the Fishes and Loaves Service Project in my house meant I didn’t have to haul all of my kitchen supplies anywhere, and it gave us easy access to things like a sink, when you need a random extra bowl, or paper towels. Pro tip: Invest in a Chop Wizard (pictured below). I use it all the time at home now, but it’s also the PERFECT tool for kids! I used mine and borrowed one from my mom for each Fishes and Loaves event. (Warning: While a Chop Wizard does make chopping onions easier, it does not prevent onion tears, as Annmarie can attest to below.)
- Plastic tablecloths are your friends. Use them on all of the tables for this service project to protect your tables and make clean-up super easy.
- As kids put the ingredients in gallon-size bags, we found that putting the bags in small trashcans helps hold the bags upright and prevents spills. Use one small trashcan per group.
- Put labels on all of the bags that have the ingredients as well as cooking instructions for the families. Put these labels on the gallon bags FIRST.
- Use this not just as a service opportunity but a learning opportunity too! Teach kids about kitchen skills, foster care, or poverty.
- It can be fun to make one of the recipes ahead of time and let the kids taste-test their work at the end of the service project.
Think this is something you want to try? Download my full plan for the event (including a suggested schedule, kid-friendly recipes, and recipe labels) below.