July 07, 2010
Christ Church, Ridgewood pursues several forms of “hands-on outreach," but one of the most compelling connects the rural, suburban and urban realms of our metropolitan area. The result, when all goes as planned, is a delicious and nutritious meal for the residents of the St. Paul’s Men’s Shelter in Paterson. The chain starts with the owner of a community-supported organic farm in Warwick, N.Y. who shares the bounty of her fields by inviting us to pick surplus crops and glean the fields. The farm is in the Pine Island section, which has some of the best soil in New York State, and some of the blackest. Volunteers literally get their hands (and feet) dirty. But they never realized pulling potatoes from the ground could be such fun. The Christ Church workers take the produce back to the big church kitchen where they clean, slice and dice the harvest to help make a meal for the St. Paul’s shelter. (Sometimes they also cook enough food for themselves, and sit down afterward to eat and talk about how they’re going to get that dirt out of their nails.) The next day a volunteer reheats the meal in the Christ Church kitchen, and a team drives to Paterson to serve it. Extra vegetables are also delivered to the Center for Food Action in Saddle Brook, for distribution with the weekly grocery bags to needy families. Everyone benefits from this arrangement, none more than the people of Christ Church, who get a chance to farm, to cook, to serve and sometimes to eat together. Above all, we get a chance to do God’s work, the greatest blessing of all.