Jesus Food Serves Hospitality to Students


Jordon Van Domelen, Student of Journalism

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church offers food for the soul on Thursdays, pulling in hungry high school students. 

“One Thursday can bring in 150-200 kids,” Pastor Jon said. The pastor of Gloria Dei hopes to bring a variety of students in every week to limit negative behavior, such as smoking or vaping, and welcome them into a safe environment.

While this event, known as Jesus Food by students, has taken place for many years, the origin date is unknown. Early on, a group from Gloria Dei felt the need to welcome students and show them hospitality. 

“We are right across from a high school. We’re in an ideal location to reach out to students,” Pastor Jon said. He explains that when Coffee House began people expected to sit through a sermon and listen to preaching. 

Now, as many know, it is a place to relax and socialize with friends. As said on the Gloria Day Lutheran Church Website, students are offered fellowship along with snacks and drinks.

“I go because it is a nice time to bond with friends that I haven’t seen during the day, and I get to try delicious desserts that I wouldn’t try on my own,” high school student Jolie Hlavacek said. Even in the winter months Hlavacek bundles up in her fur lined coat and walks across Tullar Road to meet her friends at the church. 

In total, there are 20 volunteers to make the night run like clockwork — about 10 people alternate each week. Volunteers are dispersed throughout the church: working the welcome desk, serving in the kitchen and dispersing drinks. 

Pastor Jon calculated a grand total of about 550-700 items are served each week. 

Besides the students, Pastor Jon is thankful for the recognition this night earns. 

There are many previous NHS students who still attend Coffee House. For many, the church was a safe haven. It is a well-known location for someone who may be in need of assistance. The volunteers try to make the church a welcoming place; therefore, this leads to bonds and connections made between student and volunteer. 

About 31 percent of people who attend NHS are economically challenged according to the 2018-2019 Neenah Report Card

Because of this issue, it is not uncommon to see whole families using Coffee House as a meal for the day. This is the case with individual students at NHS as well.

“Sometimes we have a student stay until we start to clean up and they’ll ask for some of the leftovers. And of course we say yes, we always have plenty and are happy to give you or your family a meal,” Pastor Jon said.

For a variety of reasons, Jesus Food affects both the students and community of NHS, along with filling the hearts of the volunteers.

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