Since June, St. Matthias Church, All Saints American Old Catholic Community, Trinity Lutheran Church, and Pastor Henry Fury’s Presbyterian mission have been providing a meals program where volunteers from the parishes cook and serve hot meals to homeless people of the neighborhoods.
These churches already have their own meals programs, such as St. Matthias Church’s day program where they serve hot lunches five days a week, and All Saints’ Sunday morning breakfast ministry where they give out hot breakfasts for the community.
This mission, which is being housed out of St. Matthias Church, brings volunteers from the different churches to Ridgewood on their assigned days to cook hot meals on-site and serve the meals. The program is run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Father Mike Lopez, pastor of All Saints, says that these events are open to the entire community, but about 95 percent of those that show up to get a hot meal are homeless.
“It’s not just soups and sandwiches we are giving out,” he said. “We try to do quality, hot-cooked meals. We have done Polish sausage and potato meals, pasta meals and Spanish food. We try to mix it up because these people who come to receive these meals come from different cultures and backgrounds. We want to make them feel that they are getting more than just a meal; they are part of the community.”
And the community is pitching in to help this multi-parish initiative.
Northside Bakery in Glendale has donated bread to the meals program, Lopez said, as well as other local restaurants that have made donations.
Lopez mentioned that this type of hot meals program was not his, or any of the other churches’, original brainchild. This has been done in Ridgewood before by Fury when his congregation was much larger. Over the years, however, the congregation shrunk and the program was halted.
Now that it is up and running again, Lopez is happy to see so many people take advantage of getting the hot meals.
“I think one of the big things about it is we are not just serving meals,” Lopez said. “We are accompanying [the homeless]. We are serving them with dignity. No one gets on a line; we serve them at table with dishes and silverware. We do our best to serve them in other ways as well. We are living our faith. The different churches put aside what may be our theological differences and come together for this.”
If anyone, or any company or faith-based service is interested in volunteering or making donations to the hot meals program, Lopez encourages everyone to reach out to him by phone at 347-592-5423 or by email at frmikenyc[@]aol.com.