Putting God’s Love Into Action
“Food for our journey” is a phrase that you hear from Fr. John Fallon at almost every Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Parish, referring of course, to the Eucharist. Now those words can be seen on the side of a truck that takes food to the homeless in Birmingham. And, yes, Fr. Fallon was the inspiration and Prince of Peace was one of the benefactors who helped make it all happen.
Kelly Harden Greene was in the pews at Prince of Peace one Sunday when Fr. Fallon spoke about food insecurity and POP’s weekender backpack ministry that serves hungry students. She’s there every Sunday at 5 pm Mass, singing in the praise band 33AD. At that Mass, the idea of starting a food truck to serve the homeless just popped into her head. As new empty-nesters, Kelly and her husband Joe had been praying about their next vocation. For years, the Greene family served food to the homeless at local shelters and soup kitchens and she knew that many hungry people cannot get to these locations for food because the facilities are open limited hours. So, at that Prince of Peace Mass, she decided to bring the food to them in a truck. Initially, Kelly planned to cook the food on the truck, but after research, decided to partner with local restaurants and caterers to accept their unserved meals, which otherwise would be thrown out, and deliver them the homeless.
Of course, there were a myriad of details to take care of before launching the food truck. Health Department approval, writing a business plan, getting a 501c3 nonprofit designation, finding the money to purchase a truck, seeking out restaurant sponsors – the list goes on. Kelly was amazed at how the process unfolded with one blessing coming after the next. If a door closed, a window opened in a different direction, showing her the way to proceed. She said, “It has been humbling and overwhelming.”
As the idea was becoming a reality, Kelly reached out to her long-time friend Christine Golab, who she had befriended as a youth minister while living in Montgomery. Could she help her deliver food two days a week? Christine was in her 16th year of teaching at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School at the time and said “yes.” She left teaching at the end of May 2019 and joined Kelly in this mission. Christine admits she had some worries about giving up her job and income, but said, “The Lord has blessed us beyond measure.”
The two began serving food out of a car in November 2019. Now, with the truck they are serving the homeless six days a week. The have a route which includes Brother Bryan Park, Five Points, the color tunnels, and other Birmingham locations where the homeless tell them there are other hungry people.
Kelly and Christine are seeking new restaurants to participate and hoping for corporate sponsors, too. They welcome donations of bottled water, aluminum catering pans, to-go containers, utensil packets, socks and blankets. Currently, the nonprofit receives regular food donations from the Redmont, Dave’s Pizza, Dreamcakes as well as intermittent ones from caterers. Food for our Journey is also affiliated with Vecchia Restaurant, who offers their kitchen and cooler space when needed and provided them with their first Cambros – specialized catering containers that keep food warm or cold.
What’s next? The ministry would love to add a second truck to meet the huge hunger needs of the Birmingham area. If you would like to volunteer or can help in some way, contact [email protected] Visit www.foodforourjourney.org to learn more about how this organization is putting God’s love into action.
Photo caption: The founders of the nonprofit Food for our Journey, Kelly Harden Greene and Christine Golab, brought their food truck to Prince of Peace recently to have it blessed by Fr. Fallon. They said, “We were very excited to be sent on our way after the blessing of the van, humbly to carry His love to those we will meet.”