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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013 7 years ago

Homelessness, and how local churches help to feed the hungry

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A good meal can go a long way, especially for the nearly 5,400 homeless individuals in Volusia County.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

The fourth Monday of every month, members of Faith Lutheran Church, at 2010 W. Granada Blvd., help serve lunch at the STAR Family Center in Daytona Beach, which serves to approximately 350 to 400 homeless individuals each day.

The center also houses several families in its shelter, and serves those 80 to 90 individuals lunch and dinner.

Monday’s menu included sandwiches, buttered bread and desert. But the food isn’t just filler; it’s also healthier than what many would find in what Halifax Urban Ministries’ Mark Geallis calls the “asphalt jungle.”

“For us, it’s been great for our outreach program,” Faith Lutheran Church secretary Fran Dunn said of her congregatin’s mission work. “(Members) get a lot out of it. ... It’s been a very powerful ministry for the members of this congregation.”

Halifax Urban Ministries also runs a Feed-a-Family program out of its Ormond Beach location, 54 S. Ridgewood Ave., where bags of food meant to feed a family of four for seven days are distributed.

The center is able to serve food to the homeless each day, at less than $1 per meal, because local churches and organizations like Faith Lutheran Church volunteer the same day each month. There’s even a whiteboard calendar in the cafeteria, where each church or organization is assigned its day of work.

The work starts before the doors open at 11:30 a.m., usually with two organizations volunteering each day. Faith Lutheran Church and Seabreeze United Church of Christ, of Daytona Beach, work the same day, and alternate between preparation, the early shift, and serving, the later shift.

The majority of the food in the cafeteria’s pantries comes from donations, with some coming from a federal government program.

Boar’s Head, Geallis said, is the center’s biggest supplier, along with Publix Super Markets, because the company removes its meats, cheeses and other products from stores before they near the “fresh until” date.

Food distributors donate damaged cans and boxes to the center, as well. The items can’t be sold to restaurants, although the food inside is fine.

Since Faith Lutheran Church volunteers at the end of the month, congregation members are likely to see more people walk through the door than if they volunteered the first Monday of the month.

Some of the people who came in Monday for lunch do have jobs , but they’re on a fixed income or may receive food assistance.

At the end of the month, when money is low or before the start of next month’s assistance, the STAR Family Center is there, helping to keep the city fed.

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