A group of Westminster College students have established a plan in partnership with Fresh Ideas, the College food service, to see that
excess food from the College dining hall is not wasted and can be
shared with local families in need.
At 2 p.m. daily, members of the Westminster Poverty Initiative pick up pans of leftover food from the dining hall and deliver them to the John C. Harris Community Center in Fulton where the Soup Kitchen serves dinner to area families at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Between 35-40 students will take turns volunteering to make the daily deliveries.
Westminster students had been trying to develop a plan for quite some time but it was only when Giorgio Cossich, Director of Food Services for Fresh Ideas said he would help make the idea work and purchased the disposable pans to deliver food that the concept became a reality.
"These kids are very dedicated," Cossich says. "They come in at 2 p.m. every day and take the food over. We would have thrown the food away. It's a great program."
"The first time I delivered the food, it did something truly wonderful for me that I could live out my faith and beliefs every day and I was amazed at how easy it was, taking so little time out of my day to have such an important impact on so many lives," says Derick Dailey, President of the Westminster Poverty Initiative. "It truly shows that reform doesn't have to take years. You just have to have the right people in place to get the job done."
Brad Sheppard, Director of Spiritual Life and Chaplain at Westminster College and faculty advisor for the Poverty Initiative, says the new program is having a significant impact.
"We're putting more emphasis on helping these students be leaders in their community," says Sheppard. "It's another way for us to get integrated in the community. These students are passionate about fighting poverty. It's not just something they want to prepare for now to do later once they graduate. They want to start right here where they are in our community. I think that's wonderful. "
A recent development will mean the innovative program will expand in Fulton. Members of the Poverty Initiative wanted to make a similar arrangement with Wiley House, Fulton's overnight homeless shelter. However, the facility had no way to store the food. Because of the positive publicity that the Poverty Initiative-Fresh Ideas partnership has already received, an anonymous donor from Court Street United Methodist Church has stepped forward to purchase a brand new refrigerator for Wiley House.
"This is great news for those who benefit from Wiley House and its services but it is also a testament to how single acts of kindness and service can generate that 'ripple effect' that has the potential to yield extraordinary fruit," says Dailey. "I hope this good news will encourage others to serve humanity and help this holiday season take on new meaning."