After serving free meals to neighbors of Jamie Farr Park in Toledo for nearly 20 years, volunteers were getting a little too old to round up the donations and cook the food.
They didn’t want to see the program end so they looked around the neighborhood and asked Friendly Center, a faith-based nonprofit agency less than a mile from the park, to help.
“Our vision statement says that no neighbor will go hungry, feel alienated, alone or powerless. Of course we said we would take over the hot meal program, and today we serve about 250 meals a month,” says Amelia Gibbon, Friendly Center executive director.
With a $28,875 grant from Toledo Community Foundation to transition operations of the program, neighbors are now getting nutritional hot meals three times a week, with a paid coordinator and volunteers earning a small stipend. “When kids are hungry they can’t learn; when moms are hungry they can’t be good mothers; and when men are hungry they don’t look their best to get work,” she adds.
“It is important that the people who come for the meals be treated with dignity and respect. We see a diversity of faces, and a hot meal impacts how they feel about themselves – it helps give them self esteem,” says Amelia.