What started as a partnership between County Bible Church and Butch's Deli has become a community-wide endeavor, said church community engagement pastor Steve Doolian.
On Monday, the church and Butch's Deli began offering free sack lunches to students who relied on school lunches for their meals.
As have several school district's in the state, Arlington Public Schools, Blair Community Schools and Fort Calhoun Community Schools closed this week to take precautions in response to COVID-19. All three school districts are now closed indefinitely as several other area organizations and events close and cancel in an effort to reduce the spread of the disease, also known as novel coronavirus.
By Wednesday, in addition to school students, Country Bible Church and Butch's Deli began offering free sack lunches to anybody in need, Doolian said. He said the lunches are planned to continue indefinitely.
"We believe we serve a radically generous God, and we want to be a radically generous church," Doolian said. "Anybody that's in need, we're delivering."
Doolian said the church is funding the lunches with help from people's donations. He said the church has extended deliveries beyond Washington County, driving north to communities such as Tekamah and Craig.
Forty-six lunches were delivered on Monday, 88 on Tuesday and 124 were delivered Wednesday. Doolian said 133 lunches for Thursday had been ordered by around noon.
Brook Bozwell, who helps coordinate the sack lunch delivery program, said a few changes were made starting with Thursday's deliveries. She said only four church staff members would be in the deli to organize and then carry the lunches to volunteer drivers who would be waiting in vehicles.
Doolian said the church was contacted by a pizzeria interested in offering pizza and breadsticks. He also said Stephen Center, an organization that seeks to help people overcome homelessness, addiction and poverty, donated 1,500 items including milk, juice and produce.
"It's amazing. It has become a community event," Doolian said. "Which is fantastic."
Anyone in need of a sack lunch delivery can call or text 531-375-6412 to place an order, specifying name, address and quantity. Orders should be placed by 11 a.m.
"No cost, no gimmick, just want to support the community, and that's what we do," Doolian said. "As long as there's a need, we will provide."