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More than an after-school snack

by Kimberly Forry

While working in the non-profit sector of Elizabethtown, Pa., Joy Astuto saw needs all around her. But she was particularly struck by the lack of affordable child-care options for lower-income households in the community. “The needs of many families were just not being served by traditional childcare programs, especially in the summer months,” she notes. This led Joy, now child care director at Conoy BIC Church, to start a day care and food pantry at the church in June 2008.

Four months later, Joy also helped launch a local chapter of Kid’s Café, an after-school program with over 1,700 U.S. branches that works with local food banks to provide hot meals and nutrition education to children living in “food insecure households.” Five days a week, busses bring more than 20 children to the Conoy Church, where they can play, do homework, and use the computer. At 4:30, kids and café staff members gather for a family-style dinner. The café also serves children in the day care.

Joy says the ministries offered at Conoy BIC center around living out spiritual convictions. “It’s hard to teach a young child that Jesus loves them when they have an empty stomach,” she observes.

This article originally appeared in the spring 2009 issue of In Part magazine.

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