One of the parents at my church recently shared with me that she and her daughter had gone to tour the local Mormon church after missionaries had visited their door. She took her daughter (4 years old) because the girl had expressed interest after that door-to-door visit. They got the tour, and afterward the mother asked her daughter what she had thought of it.
"It wasn't as fun as I thought it would be." answered the daughter, and - "there weren't any cookies".
True confession: when I was in army training I attended the Protestant church service just because they handed out donuts afterward. But, I actually did find comfort and transformation in certain aspects of that worship service while I was there.
Is it petty to "bribe" people to come to church with food treats? If it was really the only reason they came, then yes. But we need to remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
If a person hasn't met their survival needs, they can't worry about the others. So, if a child is actually not getting enough food, their ability to think, learn, and grow will be inhibited. I don't believe any of my children are starving or malnourished, but there is the second level of needs.
It is not comfortable to be hungry. It's not comfortable to go for too long without a snack, and it's certainly not comfortable to meet over a meal time without serving food. As a hypoglycemic, I really appreciate the need for regular ingestion of food.
So, meeting everyone's needs for survival and comfort, we can then move on to their psychological needs (acceptance, emotional safety, etc), then self-actualization, and finally "peak experiences" - of what we could call "experiencing the holy".
For these reasons, don't forget to plan for some food! The "snack parent" of the week is fulfilling a very important role, and the meals we plan for youth group and young adult meetings are very important as well.
I think I'll go have a snack ...