Eight years ago, someone gave an addict in longterm recovery a loaf of bread. He accepted it, and other gifts followed. Soon, he was rescuing food as fast as he could, but still so much was wasted. The food that was saved he delivered to impoverished neighborhoods in our city.
Word spread about his ministry, and eventually restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and caterers saw potential in the food they would discard to feed a person, a family and a community. So they called the addict in longterm recovery and asked if he would rescue their food. He said yes, even though it was coming in faster than it could be distributed. “Just one more” became his mantra as he worked tirelessly to feed just one more.
Soon, volunteers came forward to help by picking up food, packaging meals and delivering them to people in need. Members of inner city congregations, residents in overlooked neighborhoods, people with AIDS and even alcoholic customers of an inner city corner liquor store benefited, and as the ministry began to take shape, donors took notice.
Philanthropic investment provided the founder with the means to strengthen his impact and help just one more. And another, and yet another.
Every meal delivered gave him purpose, so he invited others struggling with addiction to join him in making a difference. He gave them jobs, hoping they too would find purpose.
And when I visited Just One More on Friday to surprise Swenny, his newest hire, I watched from the door while he packaged meals for the corner liquor store group alongside the man called to lead them from lives defined by alcoholism to something more. A better life that begins with a meal, shared with others in the church across the street. I met his coworker Eva, who three times each week leaves her job at Just One More to deliver meals throughout the night to homeless on the street. I listened to a discussion on how to reconcile bare shelves brought on by winter weather and holiday consumption with the increasing needs of partner agencies and the people they serve.
Eventually, I was handed a box of bakery and asked to weigh it for a partner picking up later that morning. And then pointed to a table full of donations needing to be weighed and sorted into meals. As I worked, I wondered about the backstories of the people I was meeting, trying to understand how they all fit together, interested most in the chapter they are writing today. The one that includes my husband, and the ministry that has brought them together and given him purpose. The ministry that started with an addict in longterm recovery accepting a loaf of bread. A man named Chris.
Today, Just One More provides 3,400 meals per week. Partner organizations apply for assistance, and as the need grows, so does the list of donors wanting to help. Fine dining restaurants, local grocers, large chain stores and custom bakeries all do their part. Their gifts are received, and shared. But not before they help change the lives of those in whose hands they first fall. People like Swenny who are seeking purpose, and for whom sobriety isn’t necessarily the end, but the means.
John 6:12 Gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.
To learn more, please visit http://www.jomministry.org