Serving rice and beans on a cool autumn day
Last week FOG served almost 75 folks at our tables set up on 22nd Street and San Pablo Avenue. Even though it was a bright, sunny day, it was rather chilly with a strong west wind blowing across the plaza.
Everyone certainly enjoyed our hot, nutritious meal. It seemed the perfect meal for those hungry and undernourished. In addition to the rice and beans we had fresh salad and a tray of baked sweet potatoes. A new volunteer arrived and pitched right in. Plates were filled and bakery goods accompanied the food. Fresh bread, rolls, and cheese bread were available. Fruit juice was available along with fresh water.
FOG has cut down on “take-away” supplies to encourage guests to eat nearby in small groups. Slowly, folks have become accustomed to this and tentative friendships seem to have formed. People stay to eat and share a story or two with us or one another. All our volunteers individually ask our guests how they are and how their day is going. Some readily respond with very upbeat answers while others shy away from sharing their troubles. We always encourage everyone to eat well and keep their spirits up. Some of our guests have been coming to our feeding tables for over a year, and, slowly, we are learning their names and their back-story. More than anything, we realize that it was always a particular something that put them on the path they’re on today. FOG believes that with a nutritious meal, a listening ear, and a cheerful hello, many of our guests will feel cared for, if even for just a short moment in their long and tiring day.
When we packed up and dismantled our tables, many stayed to help. They carried the empty pots and pans and helped load them into the cars. Our new volunteer agreed to come and help once a month. Our social justice ministry was something she had always wanted to do. By now, the volunteers and the guests seem as one group, fighting for ‘food justice’ in a better world.
My Name is Clean-Up
Last night on our local Oakland news there was a heart-felt story about a homeless man named James who has been cleaning the streets of Oakland for 15 years. Neighbors noticed this fellow with his cart and broom, and after engaging him in conversation, decided to portray him in a video in his local neighborhood. Mr. Clean-Up had a job as a truck driver some years back and lost it. After which he was never able to secure a full-time job. Looking at the streets around him, he decided to take to them with his broom. He now works daily, cleaning and sweeping. With a story to tell, he is now a neighborhood hero!
Moving our kitchen preparation site
With FOG’s move over the summer from First Congregational Church, Oakland (FCCO, Oakland) to Plymouth Church, Oakland. FOG has already set up the new kitchen space with all its supplies and is ready to prepare its first fall meal. Already 8 volunteers have signed up to cook a meal on one Thursday a month. A Team Leader was selected and they will be in charge of food preparation, organizing the utensils, storing the food supplies, arranging the kitchen volunteers, and the purchasing of additional food stuffs.
The board agreed that the first Thursday of the month will be reserved for a ‘Spiritual Practice’ led by Rev. Theresa Freeman, our founding minister. The second Thursday will coincide with the Women’s Fellowship meeting and FOG will have one of its members prepare the food for distribution. The third Thursday of the month will be organized by a volunteer from Plymouth Church and an outside group of retired teachers. FOG still needs a volunteer(s) for the fourth and (if necessary) the fifth Thursdays of the month. FOG does not cook on Thanksgiving or Christmas week.
Skyline Community Church has expressed an interest in joining our feeding program. Several of its members have already signed up to participate in the kitchen as well as on the serving line. Their group will join Rev. Theresa Freeman on the first Thursday of the month to experience and learn something about her ‘Spiritual Practice’ in preparing and feeding the hungry.