July 16, 2020

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An Amazing Day of Teamwork, Support

Mobile Food Drive

By Greg Syler of Feed St. Mary’s

For several years now, HOPE — the coalition of churches in St. Mary’s County — has partnered with the Maryland Food Bank in setting up what they call a Mobile Food Drive.

Once a month, generally on the fourth Saturday, for 11 months of the year (we skip December, as that’s busy enough!), the Maryland Food Bank, teaming up with Farming4Hunger, sends a truck with donated food to Lexington Park. The truck unloads 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of food in one of two parking lots: one month, it’s God’s House of Refuge on Midway Drive in Lexington Park; the next month it’s Church of the Ascension on Great Mills Road.

These Mobile Food Drives are kind of like Christmas – you don’t really know what’s on the truck until it shows up, and I’ve been impressed each time it arrives: there are, literally, thousands of pounds of delicious, nutritious food, often fresh vegetables, sometimes meat, sometimes milk, sometimes prepackaged dinners, ready to be given away to the community.

And that’s what we do – give it away.

As you can tell from what I’ve described, the Mobile Food Drive is, itself, an amazing, coordinated offering – basically a free farmers market in downtown Lexington Park, at least 11 times each year.

It’s also a dynamic partnership between HOPE (like I said, a coalition of nearly 30 churches in St. Mary’s County), the Maryland Food Bank, Farming-4Hunger, and now, Feed St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s County’s first-ever food bank, not to mention the generosity of so many grocers and restaurateurs and farmers and others who give of their abundance to serve others.

HOPE and its member churches have been doing these Mobile Food Drives for years, longer than I’ve been connected with the organization in my capacity as the pastor of Church of the Ascension. But these food drops have taken on a new level of meaning in our collective experiences around COVID-19.

We’re learning a lot about partnerships, and I’m so grateful for the deep connectedness and generosity of so many in St. Mary’s County – the way our neighbor churches share best practices and abundance with each other; the way our citizens show up and donate and support; the way we look out for each other.

“We’re all in this together,” I’ve been saying for many weeks now, and that was nowhere more evident than on the last Saturday in April in downtown Lexington Park.

On April 25, the truck showed up, as scheduled, around 9 am that morning, and unloaded nearly 8,000 pounds of great stuff.  There were crates of pre-packaged dinners from Freshly, pallets of boxes of bottled and sparkling water, fresh cabbage, brussels sprouts, other leafy greens, boxes of chips and cookies, and pre-boxed assortments of fresh vegetables and produce.

Equally amazing were the many people who came to receive, and receive gratefully, and so many fellow residents who were compelled to come and give of their time. Some volunteers spent the morning mingling and socializing and networking with others and with guests – the sidewalks marked at 8-foot lengths so as to keep social distancing. Other volunteers handed out food to those walking thru, and those who drove thru, too.

We checked in more than 150 families or individuals, which totaled to more than 500 people who received food, when we added the number of persons at home.  Finally, we also encouraged local food pantries to show up around 10:30 am, and take extra supplies back to their pantries. That way, they could give it away through their operations the next week. By 11:15 am or so, the entire parking lot was clear and the neighborhood was fed!

Tables were moved inside, the pallets were removed, and people were on about their day. It was a truly amazing day of teamwork and mutual support … precisely the “business” we say we’re in!

The Mobile Food Drives, coordinated through HOPE and now, with the added boost of additional support and coordination through Feed St. Mary’s, will continue as scheduled on the fourth Saturday of each month. We continue on Saturday, June 27, at Church of the Ascension in Lexington Park. All volunteers are welcome and encouraged to lend a hand, starting anytime around 8:30 am.

For more information, contact Wanda DiGennaro, HOPE’s ministry coordinator, at 301-737-2870 or hopesomd@gmail.com.

This report was from the Feed St. Mary’s May 2020 newsletter, The Dinner Bell.

 

To learn more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation

46940 South Shangri-La Drive, Suite 7

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-863-7700

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