Bucks Food for Friends: Successfully Sustaining Life

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Bucks Food for Friends (BFFF) was founded in May 2008 by individual Friends of Bucks Quarterly Meeting, who recognized among both homeless people and the working poor a growing need for access to healthy food. In the nearly six years of operation, the number of people served by the program has increased many times over. The first dinner was attended by eleven guests and very many eager Quakers and others who wanted to provide a nourishing, hot meal for needy persons. There was a cook, a sous chef, procurers of food donations, servers, and clean-up people. Many of those original volunteers and guests are still showing up. Today, the average number of guests is typically 60, and sometimes even more than 70.

Each third Monday of the month, diners arrive at Fallsington Friends Meeting, many arriving by van, courtesy of Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need, with whom BFFF works closely. From the beginning, the group set a mandate to share the meal with the people being fed. So volunteers make an effort to get to know those they serve. They have become aware of the challenges faced by people who struggle with joblessness, mental illness, addiction, and other health problems. BFFF volunteers have also seen the occasional opportunity open up for some folks. They have watched their toddlers and infants grow.

Bucks Food for Friends offers multiple points of entry for volunteers, from donating food and supplies, to setting up, serving, and cleaning up. Poultry donations are provided by Zook’s BBQ Barn at the Newtown Farmers Market, which also offers name recognition for the service. Roots to River and Snipes Farm provide donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. Chandler Hall residents, who call themselves the 11th Hour Bakers, provide desserts every other month.

bread-3Members of Yardley, Newtown, Middletown, Fallsington, Doylestown and Bristol Meetings regularly volunteer, coordinated by Carol Richardson (Newtown MM), who emails a sign-up list to potential volunteers. The need continues for cooks, sous chefs, servers, and cleaners. This year the cooks got a respite, as others offered to take one month and prepare a meal either at home or in the spacious kitchen of Fallsington Meeting. Volunteer servers and cleaners run the gamut and include Quaker children, some of whom come with their parents from local Meetings, and the faithful volunteers from Pennswood Village and Friends Village. Community members, such as local Girl Scout Troop 2115, also pitch in with serving and clean-up from time to time.

One of the most amazing aspects of Bucks Food for Friends is how it has spread throughout the region, impacting organizations who want to offer free dinners. Leaders from BFFF have coached others in organizing dinners for the needy, and the number of faith communities who now provide dinners has increased to 19 in Bucks County. Hungry people are currently covered for more than two and a half weeks worth of meals each month.

BFFF is successful on many fronts. It gives open-hearted people an opportunity to do something for those less fortunate. It gives homeless and needy persons comfort and life-sustaining nutrition. It is well-coordinated and well-run – volunteers even shaved an hour off of every clean-up time last year! The organization is financially sound, receiving gifts from many Meetings and individuals in Bucks Quarter, as well as raising funds by participating in the Walk Against Hunger.

Bucks Food for Friends has its own website (http://www.quakersbucks.org/index.php/bucksfood/) with links to the other partner agencies. If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, contact Carol Richardson at c.richardson@cbhearthside.com.

Shared by Marion Snipes (Fallsington Friends Meeting)