Church group, food services team up to feed homeless
Local church, restaurants join forces to feed the homeless
A Waldorf church is on a mission to feed families in need with frozen food that is wrapped up and ready to go.
Holy Temple Cross Ministries Inc. has part- nered with various local restaurants and convenience stores to give away free food to the homeless every Wednesday.
The ministry began its outreach under the Food Donation Connection harvest program back in March 2015. According to Food Donation Connection, hunger relief agencies and food recov- ery groups want to see more restaurants stop discarding food and start donating it.
The harvest program at Holy Temple Cross Ministries is run by Deacon Jerry Head, who believes that food is just one of the many ways to help indi- viduals who are experi- encing hard times. Local restaurants are on board with the group’s mission.
“I noticed my brother doing a similar type of out- reach at his own church in Capitol Heights,” Head said. “One thing that we try to do at out church here in Waldorf is make sure we have an outreach ministry because out- reach is really just extending your love and knowl- edge of God to other people. My brother said I should get into the food ministry, so I started out with one pick up from a local Starbucks and then got other businesses in- volved.”
“Giving food away and extending a hand out to people is important to my husband and I,” said his wife, Christine. “The Lord laid it on our hearts to do.”
Church administrator Florence Blacken said the meals include different types of WaWa sandwiches, rice, noodles, steak, spaghetti sauce, sausages and various types of pas- ta. She said the meals are frozen so any visitor can take it with them, let the food thaw and then heat it up before eating.
“Visitors only need to sign in to receive food,” Blacken said. “We don’t investigate people and we don’t judge their situation.”
Jerry said once the harvest program was approved by his pastor, George Allen Blacken Sr., he began going out early on Wednesday mornings to pick up packaged and frozen leftover food donated by local restaurants. The food is then brought back to the church’s loca- tion in Waldorf and distributed from 1 to 1:30 p.m.
“It was near and dear to my heart to do the out- reach because I’m a retired teacher and I would see children that would come to school hungry,” Blacken said. “It helps the families because we have single parents and fami- lies that have six children, and you want to be able to feed those children and families.”
Head said as of late, the harvest program has at least eight people who come regularly with an additional three or four new visitors coming to pick up food weekly.
“The people begin to talk to you and we let people know that we are here to serve,” he said. “People are thankful and grateful for the program. They come in and hug you and you feel the love.”
While the church orga- nization plans to reach more than 100 families, the businesses are hoping to help expand the program in the future. Local businesses contributing food include WaWa in White Plains and Car- rabba’s Italian Grill in Waldorf.
“We’ve been doing this about two years now and our location was a test store on that program,” said Mike Mangiacapre, WaWa’s White Plains manager. “Now all of the WaWas are participating. The company wanted to do this instead of throwing away food. We make so much food and then if you don’t sell it, what else can you do except throw it away like any other restaurant would do?”
Mangiacapre said the products are made and then taken off the rack af- ter about 20 minutes to an hour, depending on what the product is. He said his staff now freezes the food and then donates it to the church, which has been happy to receive the donations. Al Wynter, assistant general manager of Carrabba’s in Waldorf, said he enjoys working with Holy Temple Cross Ministries every Wednesday because the deacon is such a polite gentleman with a good heart.
“We are a community restaurant and we like to give back to the community and help in any other way we can help,” Wynter said. “Times are difficult all over and we always try to build relationships in our community. We don’t look at it from a beneficial standpoint. We just look at it as four or five people can a have a meal the next day instead of us throwing it out. It’s something positive.”
Wynter said the restaurant makes sure that the donated food is safe, reusable and edible.
“It’s a pleasure working with them and I look forward to working with them for many more years to come,” Wynter said.
For more information about the harvest program, call Florence Blacken at 301-632-9707, or go to www.holytemplecrossministries.com.
On Dec. 7, Holy Temple Cross Ministries Inc. volunteers, church administrator Florence Blacken, Deacon Jerry Head and his wife Christine Head distribute food donated by WaWa in White Plains and Carrabba’s in Waldorf as part of the Food Donation Connection harvest program.