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The Society of St. Edmund began the Missions with the simple act of handing out sandwiches from the back door of the mission house. In the City of Selma, Alabama, 44% of the population live below the poverty line, and nearly 30% suffer from food insecurity. So the need for our nutrition-based services is just as critical now as it was in 1937. We respond by ensuring that healthy food is available for all.
The Bosco Nutrition Center serves 1,300 meals each day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in our dining hall located in the heart of the poorest neighborhoods in Selma. The Bosco Nutrition Center also acts as a hub for many outreach programs.
Each week, the Bosco Nutrition Center provides 1,500 weekend breakfast meals to three elementary schools. Nearly all of the children in Selma’s public schools qualify for free breakfast and lunch programs, but without school on the weekend, there is no food. The breakfast program ensures that elementary school children have weekend breakfasts. In Selma, elementary school teachers report that students are more alert and ready for school on Monday after having the weekend breakfast program. Another 600 meals are prepared and delivered to the homebound throughout Selma in a program called Meals of Hope. In the three rural areas served by the Missions, 1,000 people per month are provided food bags. The Nutrition Center also prepares meals for the afterschool programs at our rural sites of Mosses, Vredenburg, and Pine Apple.
As part of our nutrition services, Edmundite Missions also operates food pantries throughout the Black Belt and Deep South. We provide nearly 300 tons of food each year. The Missions is beginning to make the change from the traditional food pantry model to a points-based “shopping” system. The points are designed to favor fresh fruit and vegetables, promoting a healthy diet among our clients.
Nutrition has been the cornerstone of our ministry since our founding, and we will always provide a dignified seat at the table for any who hunger.