Early this morning, Pastor Ben of Christian Life Center (CLC), FRN’s first and longest-serving nonprofit partner, got an unexpected surprise from University of Maryland Food Recovery Network chapter just in time for the holidays. The campus dining halls were emptying out their freezers and storage for winter break. “They called me up and they said ‘we got some food for you.’”
When Pastor Ben and his small team of volunteers arrived, they found 8,000 pounds of surplus food from the dining halls, as well as ingredients that never made it to the cutting board. Crates stacked with everything from dinner rolls to smoked ham filled a refrigerated semi-trailer. In his own car, dozens of trays of lasagna, grilled chicken, and dessert bars packed into just about every space available.
It’s not unusual for a recovery from the campus to yield a few hundred pounds of food, but even today’s haul amazed Pastor Ben. “We just went from serving 100 people to over 200 people, to even more! I needed a dolly just to get the boxes to the car!,” he said with a huge smile on his face.
This weekend, hundreds of families will convene at CLC for holiday mass, dinners and food giveaways, all thanks to donations from the community members and local organizations such as FRN. For Pastor Ben, feeding people is a mission that he works hard to accomplish every day. “I had a lady come today, she didn't have any food,” he remembers. “I said, 'well, you sure did come the right day today! I can give you enough food for as long as you want to eat food!”
The CLC plans to spread the food throughout senior citizen's centers, children's centers, soup kitchens, shelters, and churches in the area. This recovery was particularly well-timed; in the season of giving, families throughout the county now have holiday meals.
- Words and photos by Antonio Hernandez, Programming and External Affairs Fellow