This Christmas has been really special for me, not because I got nice presents, which I did, because I’ve got nice family and friends. It wasn’t because I got to spend time with family and my children, because that’s always nice. It wasn’t the Christmas carols or the midnight mass, or the time off from college and study. It was all to do with sprouts and broccoli!
In the summer Margaret Hattam from Yourcafe (a local junk food recycling project) agreed to have a coffee with me and some volunteers from St Luke’s. I’d visited their cafe at Tang Hall Community Centre (Wednesdays in term time) and been really impressed. She mentioned that between Christmas and New year she’s always received lots of phone calls from supermarkets offering food otherwise headed to landfill, and never been able to make use of it. She suggested a sort of store-house approach might work, and would St Luke’s be interested.
Well it turns out St Luke’s was interested, and when Margaret and our vicar Rev Jackie Doyle-Brett got together, Luke’s Larder was born. As a newly minted ‘green’ church, St Luke’s was more than happy to donate the use of the hall between Christmas and new year. We then had interest in supporting the project from the Local Area Team for children and young people, (Diane Lambert @ City of York Council) and Paula Stainton from York City Foundation, in supporting the initiative. Clifton Green School also helped us by donating food they’d been offered from Aldi.
It turned out well. We had over 1310.5 kg of food donated from M&S, Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Greggs and Diane stood outside in the cold handing out leaflets to lots of locals walking past. We had volunteers from across York helping out as well as locals from St Luke’s who gave up their holiday time to serve tea and coffee and help get everything organised. We served over 250 people through the 3 days the project was open, plus extra deliveries on Christmas Eve and a final one today on New Year’s eve.
The message I took from it as a trainee vicar was that God wants to bless us. We sometimes make things too complicated. Sometimes he just wants to gift us things that we need. We met so many people during the project who received something they really needed. I loved going round to a friends house and offering them fruit and veg rather than another bottle of wine or some mince pies.
We raised over £400 for Yourcafe yourcafe.co.uk without whom we couldn’t have done anything. I hope 2018 is a great year for them, and other similar projects in York, as they are all small community groups making a big difference. It’s really been a highlight of the year for me and others being involved. Jesus asked one of his disciples, Peter, Do you love me? To which all good christian people say.. of course I love you! Then Jesus response is
Feed my sheep. (John 21 v17)