Daily Bread program distributes food: Ave Maria saves leftover unserved food for needy local families, reducing kitchen wasteBefore the Daily Bread program began at Ave Maria Village in 2010, leftover food that hadn’t been served had to be thrown away — spare pork chops, extra fried chicken and even whole pans of untouched lasagna. Now all that food gets placed in a bag in a freezer, where anyone who needs a little extra help has access to it.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Before the Daily Bread program began at Ave Maria Village in 2010, leftover food that hadn’t been served had to be thrown away — spare pork chops, extra fried chicken and even whole pans of untouched lasagna.
Now all that food gets placed in a bag in a freezer, where anyone who needs a little extra help has access to it.
“We make our staff aware of these food items, and if it’s something they can use, they’re welcome to it, no questions asked,” said Deacon Tom Geffre, chaplain at Ave Maria Village.
Some staff members take the food for their own use, if needed, but others pick up the food to bring it to community members in need. The freezer is in a private area in one of Ave Maria’s back hallways, flanked by closed doors, so no one sees who’s picking up food.
“In the past, some of it’s been taken down to the (St. James) Basilica, so Father (Al) Bitz takes it to people he knows can use it,” Geffre said. “We are just now, slowly getting into taking some of the food down to the Salvation Army so they can distribute it.”
Every week, Ave Maria distributes about 50 to 60 pounds of food through its Daily Bread program. A lot of its food is already semi-processed — after it’s cooked, it can be safely refrozen, untouched by human hands, provided it hasn’t been served.
The packages are carefully labeled and dated as containing lasagna, hotdishes, ham, pork chops, roast beef, meatballs, hamburger, sausage or whatever happens to be left over on any given day.
Sometimes there’s even dessert.
“About the only thing that doesn’t get frozen is lettuce. Other vegetables can be frozen,” Geffre said.
He has never seen anything remain in the freezer for more than a few days.
The food feeds about half a dozen families, at this point, and Ave Maria is looking for more organizations to get involved, too.
“We are working with a few other places in town that do have food service programs,” Geffre said. “Two entities have indicated they’re interested.”
Grant money is available for the purchase of heavy plastic bags and a freezer, so all the program would require would be some space, Geffre said.
Ave Maria’s program has been supported through a special collection at St. James Basilica that raised $800 in 2011, and through a recent grant of $2,000 from the Jamestown Community Foundation.
“We don’t have a great deal of food, but if we could get several entities together, we could be saving a lot of food that would normally get wasted,” Geffre said.
Some anonymous comments regarding the program have praised it as “very helpful” and “a great program.”
One person wrote, “I am so humbled for the help. Never thought my family would be in a financial bind. Thank you for the food — it helps out a lot.”
The Daily Bread program is modeled after a similar program in Fargo, in which leftover food is picked up and brought to a central location, before being cooked and eaten there.
“Our overall goal is to reduce food waste and help those that really need that kind of help,” Geffre said.
Any organization interested in participating, or any individuals interested in volunteering to bring meals to a central location should call Ave Maria at 252-5660, and ask for Chaplain Tom.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
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