Every year, Nutritional Development Services begins the Summer Meals Program with a blessing of the summer. This year, we kicked off the 2014 Summer Meals Program at St. Athanasius Parish Camp with a peace-themed blessing. Before eating lunch, Monsignor Daniel Sullivan led the campers through a brief prayer, which emphasized everyone’s hopes for a safe, healthy, and peaceful summer. Monsignor Sullivan then asked the children what they could do to be peacemakers in their communities. Children in the crowd provided many responses, including “helping other people in your house,” “showing respect for others,” and simply “being good.”
After the prayer, the children pledged to become peacekeepers, and for this they received peace-sign necklaces to wear. As they ate the NDS lunches, they completed peace-themed games and word-searches, and discussed how lunchtime can relate to peacekeeping. Skylar, age 11, said, “Mealtime can be about peace because it’s about sharing.” Reginald, age 9, offered a similar sentiment as he said that “being friendly” at lunch can help promote peace. Upon finishing the meals, the children then presented Monsignor Daniel with a token of gratitude by giving him a jumbo “Thank You” card with the names of all the campers and their depictions of peacekeeping.
Indeed, mealtime can be a great opportunity to encourage and practice peace. As children share a meal together, they have a chance to socialize and bond with their peers and other adults. Universally, mealtime is an occasion to treat those around us with friendliness, respect, and love. Here at NDS, we hope that by providing children with access to nutritious and well-balanced meals, we will help to cultivate peace across the community.
By Catherine Darin & Jeanmarie Elican / Photographs by Rosemarie Caward