By Emily Williams
The phrase “food for our journey” is one that Prince of Peace Catholic Church’s the Rev. John Fallon uses consistently in reference to the Eucharist.
Those words are now emblazoned on the side of a van that delivers meals to the homeless population in Birmingham.
POP parishioner Kelly Harden Greene – who developed the food delivery service, Food For Our Journey – said she was sitting in the pews at Prince of Peace one Sunday when Fallon spoke about food insecurity and POP’s weekender backpack ministry, which serves hungry students. That’s when the idea came to Greene, who attends Mass every Sunday at 5 p.m. and sings in the praise band 33AD.
Greene said she and her husband, Joe, had recently become empty nesters and were searching for their next vocation. The Greene family served food to the homeless at local shelters and soup kitchens, and she said she knew that many hungry people cannot get to these locations for food because the facilities are open limited hours.
In the initial planning stages, Greene thought she might cook the food on the truck. But she decided against that after some research. The ministry instead partners with local restaurants and caterers and serves their meals that otherwise would have been uneaten and thrown out.
Once the idea began to unfold and a business plan was constructed, she was able to obtain health department approval, nonprofit designation, money to purchase a truck and restaurant sponsors.
Greene said she was amazed at how the process unfolded.
“It has been humbling and overwhelming,” she said. If a door closed, a window opened in a different direction, showing her the way to proceed.
When it came time to begin operation, Greene reached out to her long-time friend Christine Golab to help deliver meals two days a week.
Golab signed on, leaving her 16-year career teaching at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School to join Greene.
Golab said she had some worries about giving up her job and income, but she said, “The Lord has blessed us beyond measure.”
Service began in November with delivery two days a week, but it has grown to six days a week. The van’s route includes Brother Bryan Park, Five Points and the rainbow tunnels in downtown Birmingham, among other locations pointed out to them by the homeless people they serve.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has partnered with Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato and Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila to add a new initiative, Food for the Front Lines, which delivers meals to health care workers and others operating at the front lines of the health care crisis.
Greene and Golab are looking for new restaurants to partner with and are accepting donations. Items that can be donated include bottled water, aluminum catering pans, to-go containers, utensil packets, socks and blankets.
To volunteer or donate, contact kelly@foodforourjourney. For more information, visit foodforourjourney.org.