Recover Food, Feed Hope, an outreach ministry based at Church of the Holy Communion, evolved from efforts to feed the Constance Abbey community during the pandemic. Volunteers started gleaning in 2020 during the pandemic and continued meeting weekly after the initial need was met. The ministry has grown to include other parishes and faith groups interested in addressing food insecurity and eliminating food waste.
As of March 2023, the ministry provides 150-180 individually packaged meals a week from food that otherwise would be wasted. The packaged meals are given to the Emmanuel Center, Hope House, Lisieux Community Drop-In Center, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, St. George’s Memphis campus and the 901 Refrigerator Project for distribution to the food insecure in Memphis. In addition, the ministry provides First Congregational Church a hot meal to serve 75-100 each week. It also provides meals to Room in the Inn.
The project started early in the pandemic when Constance Abbey asked Holy Communion for help feeding its neighbors. Barb developed a plan to provide more than 900 sack lunches a week, plus enough hot food to serve 40 to 50 people on weeknights. Soon, other parishes in the diocese as well as faith groups across the Mid-South were involved and continued to provide Constance Abbey lunches and meals into the summer of 2021.
The work led to a gleaning partnership with Memphis Jewish Family Services and farmers at a large Shelby County-based farmers market. The produce is chopped and pureed to make home-cooked entrees and desserts. From there, the meals are packaged, frozen, and distributed to people in underserved areas of Memphis.
As the word spread, restaurants and institutional kitchens, including Rhodes College and La Baguette, began reaching out to see if the ministry could use excess from its kitchens to reach more hungry people and eliminate food waste. Once a week, Holy Communion receives large serving pans of food, which it repurposes into nourishing, individually-packaged meals.
The ministry works closely with Calvary Episcopal Church and Clean Memphis to expand food recovery from more institutional kitchens, restaurants, and caterers.
With more volunteers, including your support, the project could feed more people and keep more food from landfills. Currently, work groups meet on Sunday afternoon, Monday and Thursday mornings at Holy Communion. The ministry also needs more drivers for pick-up and delivery on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.