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Last week, a woman drove up to St. Cecilia’s Church in Englewood, and asked me if there were any free meals left. She looked down, and was very nervous. I welcomed her, and directed her through the parking lot where she could get the four meals she needed.

A few minutes later, after she got her meals, she drove around the block and pulled up next to me again. She thanked me. “I just lost my job,” she said. “I’ve never had to do anything like this before. I just didn’t know what to do.”

“That’s why we’re here,” I said. She thanked me again, and drove away. She’s been back several times since then.

Back in May, Family Promise began working together with World Central Kitchen to distribute 400 meals a day to those in need. We were told that they would be able to do this for two weeks; if WCK were able to do so, they would continue it on a week-to-week basis.

As you read this, we will have completed our 19th week, and have distributed nearly 41,000 meals.

In June, WCK asked if we were interested in distributing 15-pound boxes of produce, once a week, in addition to distributing the meals. For the first week, we handed out 160 boxes. For the last seven weeks, we have handed out 560 boxes. Over these past 13 weeks, we have distributed nearly 5,800 boxes weighing over 43 tons of fresh produce!

While other organizations struggled, especially during the early days of this pandemic, Family Promise found new ways to help those in need while still continuing to serve working families who have become homeless. In essence, what we are doing in Englewood is, in fact, a form of homeless prevention. Because families are receiving the free meals, they can use their scarce financial resources towards the rent. We knew there was a food insecurity issue in Englewood (see the article, “Family Promise Joins Food Security Task Force” in this newsletter), and we found a creative way to collaborate with another amazing not-for-profit organization. Thanks to the 100+ volunteers who have helped over these past five months, we have served hundreds and hundreds of families and individuals.

Including the woman who drove up, so nervous, wondering where she would get her next meal. And that’s why we’re here.

Paul Shackford