Raising Cattle to Feed the Urban Poor: Howard-Miami Mennonite Church in Indiana

Urge youth involved in groups such as 4-H or Future Farmers of America to use their interests and skills to raise cattle to provide meat to food pantries that feed the urban poor.

During the summer of 2009, Alan Mast’s youth group from Howard-Miami Mennonite Church, located about 13 miles outside Kokomo, Indiana, participated in a summer service week that included volunteering for a day at Kokomo Urban Outreach’s food pantry. Mast noticed the pantry didn’t stock much meat and realized his experience raising cattle could be put to use.

With the help of his youth group, Mast rallied the financial and prayer support of his church and local community to address hunger needs in Kokomo, a city hit very hard by the recession, through Kokomo Urban Outreach. The Cattle Project began with two beef cattle and was up to six cows by fall 2010, with more planned.

Jeff Newton, executive director of Kokomo Urban Outreach, expected each cow to provide at least 3,000 meals for the 800 children his organization serves dinner to on Sundays. As more cows became ready for slaughter, Newton hoped to make meat available through the food pantry as well.

Sarah Schlegel, youth pastor at Howard-Miami Mennonite, says supporting Mast’s vision brought the youth group of 10-15 high school students closer and challenged adults in the congregation. “The elders talk in their meetings about the challenge the youth have placed on the church,” she says. “It’s causing the church to ask the same questions: What can we do to serve the community?”

Mast says he’s been changed too: “I feel like I am doing something for God every day because I have to do something for the cows every day.”

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