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Food for the Journey: Fighting Food Insecurity in Areas That Need It Most

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by Kary Ellen Berger

The Food for the Journey Project (FJP), based in Dayton, is now aiding neighbors in need right in their own backyards thanks to a new mobile kitchen.

“Food for the Journey Project is a community kitchen and a mobile response to hunger,” said Chuck Wourms, executive director of FJP. “We acknowledge that hunger in all its forms exists and demands a consistent, dignified, street-level response. That’s why we prepare and serve free meals each week in multiple neighborhoods.”

This is the sixth year of operations for FJP. The concept of obtaining and deploying a mobile kitchen, however, is new this year.

“Mobility is the key to our effectiveness in addressing hunger where it exists,” said Wourms. “Our constraint was finding adequate food preparation facilities at the right place and time– we needed something we could cook in that would go where we needed to be.”

This is why, Wourms said, the Sisters of the Precious Blood (CPPS) helped secure a mobile kitchen for the organization.

“Sister Jean Rene Hoying with the Sisters of the Precious Blood has been with us practically from the beginning and is a tireless volunteer,” Wourms said. “Sister Jean suggested we apply to the CPPS Heritage Mission Fund for a grant to finance the purchase [of a mobile kitchen]. We knew of others in the community who received their grants and decided to apply.”

FJP was approved for the grant and purchased their mobile kitchen. To celebrate the occasion, the organization held a blessing ceremony with the sisters.

“It was an unparalleled event – beautiful, gracious, humble, Spirit-filled,” said Wourms. “We could not have accepted a gift of this magnitude without acknowledging those who were responsible, accept their wisdom and blessing, and letting them know they are being represented every day in the community in which they live.”

One volunteer said, “The blessing of the mobile kitchen was one of those days that fills your soul.”

To make the occasion extra special, the groups enjoyed ice cream following the blessing.

“Chuck, his board and volunteers happily served ice cream to the sisters, making each one feel special, just as FJP does with their ‘guests,’” the volunteer added. “And the sisters were thrilled with the tangible expression of their donation. It was a full circle experience for them to see what their financial donation had enabled to become a wonderful reality.”

“Our purpose has always been to address hunger where it exists, recognizing the obstacles – circumstantial, physical, emotional and psychological – that perpetuate poor nutrition,” Wourms said. “The mobile kitchen gives us the ability to extend our reach, serve more meals, visit more neighborhoods, all with the goal of creating an atmosphere of community, stability, safety and compassion at each meal.”

Learn more at foodforthejourneyproject.org.

This article appeared in the November edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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