Pastor John Siebeling from The Life Church of Memphis was at a conference last April when he felt moved to do something to feed hungry Memphis children. So a few weeks ago, Siebeling's church bought a couple of delivery trucks.
Those two trucks are just the beginning of a fleet aimed at distributing groceries to children and families in need.
"We're working with the city school system to assess the neediest schools and how we can best coordinate the process of getting food to those families," said Joe Carson, The Life Church's outreach director.
The two trucks are on their way to the church now, and Carson said the church is raising funds to purchase several more. Carson said each truck ranges around $9,000 to purchase and ready for distribution.
They're hoping to have a fleet ready to go when school starts back in August. The initial idea is to park outside certain city schools on Friday afternoons and distribute groceries to families in the surrounding neighborhoods.
"When four out of every 10 kids in our city go to bed hungry, and we have so many churches in Shelby County, there's a disconnect between how many see church and God's heart for the poor," Carson said.
Though Life Church is waiting on Memphis City Schools to determine which schools are located in areas of greatest need, Carson said they'll likely be at schools where the majority of kids qualify for the free lunch program.
Any children in the neighborhoods where the trucks are parked will qualify for free groceries, which will be provided by monthly grocery donations from church members as well as a few national organizations that provide food for such programs.
"We built a little warehouse space as a part of our campus, and we've added shelving racks, a forklift, and a walk-in freezer and refrigerator," Carson said. "Now we're trying to fill that space with food to be distributed."
The trucks are being purchased from an advertising company in Utah that used the vehicles to advertise a new pizza in Canada. That ad campaign has ended, and the trucks have been refurbished.
"We started telling [the owner of the trucks] what we were going to do, and he got choked up on the phone," Siebeling said in a video posted on the church's website. The trucks' owner had faced similar struggles when he was a child.
The Life Church already has a program in place distributing sack lunches to children in low-income neighborhoods on Saturdays. They also host a food pantry and clothing center each Friday and serve breakfast to the homeless each Thursday.
"We want to come alongside and help the families be what a family should be," Carson said. "A lot of them don't have the resources to do that."
To make a donation to the truck fund-raising campaign, go to TheLifeChurch.com.