Feed the Hungry
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Philoptochos Receives National Hunger Hero Award
As Outstanding Faith-Based Organization
Dave Green, Feeding Children Everywhere CEO, presents Hunger Hero Award to Georgia Vlitas and Evan Scurtis
In June, the Feeding Children Everywhere organization honored National Philoptochos with its inaugural Hunger Hero Award in the Outstanding Faith-Based Organization category. National Philoptochos Feed the Hungry Chair and Assistant Treasurer, Georgia Vlitas, and Second Vice President, Evangeline Scurtis, attended the awards presentation, which took place in Orlando, Florida. Feeding Children Everywhere is an international non-profit organization based in Florida. Volunteer groups like Philoptochos purchase the ingredients that go into the meals from the organization, and then hold an event to package the meals. The organization distributes the meals to a location chosen by the sponsoring group. Feeding Children Everywhere presented Hunger Hero Awards in two-dozen categories. Philoptochos has sponsored Feeding Children Everywhere food packaging events across the U.S. at National Board meetings, metropolises, individual chapters and the 2016 National Clergy-Laity Congress as part of its Feed the Hungry program, which was launched in January 2015 by National President Maria Logus.
Philoptochos and World Hunger Day
World Hunger Day is a prominent event on the calendar of the Philoptochos Society and chapters across the country marked the May 28 national day of awareness by offering meals to the homeless and hungry. In church halls, in soup kitchens and on city streets, Philoptochos stewards across the nation were ministering to the less fortunate. Salt Lake City, UT; Elkins Park, PA; Chicago, IL; Hartford, CT; Euless, TX and New Rochelle, NY, represent just a small fraction of the cities and towns with Philoptochos chapters that participate in an effort to feed those in need. Some initiatives are parish-wide and include families and friends.
To read the update, click here: The Pappas Post, May 24, 2017
and for a previous report click here: The Pappas Post, August 5, 2016
The National Philoptochos Feed the Hungry program began as part of National Philoptochos President Maria Logus’ goal of “doing -- more hands on philanthropy, engaging all members of our community in our work.” In February 2015, President Logus challenged chapters to prepare and offer 250,000 meals by the 2016 National Philoptochos Biennial Convention. YOU MET THE CHALLENGE! On July 12, 2016, Committee Chair Georgia Vlitas reported that the Philoptochos Feed the Hungry Initiative had fed a grand total of 764,285 meals. Last Thanksgiving, President Logus upped the goal by inviting Philoptochos chapters and stewards to continue to offer wholesome and hearty meals to the homeless and hungry. She wrote, “Our goal, challenging but certainly achievable, is to offer one million meals before our next convention in 2018 and to experience both the joy and the rewards of this service, over and over again.”
Please note that with this new goal, we announce a new hashtag to mark your social media posts: #onemillionmeals and a new email address: email@example.com to send your updates.
Click here for 2017 Philoptochos FEED THE HUNGRY Liaisons
In partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere, delegates from the Philoptochos Convention and Clergy-Laity Congress assembled meals for hungry children in Nashville and Greece. On the morning of July 7, 2016 a total of 25,188 meals were prepared!
The Holy Trinity Philoptochos chapter from Bridgeport, CT, has been doing many things to help provide meals to those in need. On Saturday, March 19, the Philoptochos chapter, teamed up with Feeding Children Everywhere to provide 12,096 meals for children in need in the Bridgeport area and children in Greece. Included in the event were volunteers from GOYA, along with other members of their community. It was a day filled with good works, fun, food and fellowship.
The Bridgeport Philoptochos has also been assisting the National Feed the Hungry ministry by Penn Station in NYC. They have prepared and donated the entre several times and for the special Thanksgiving Day feeding they baked 60 tsourekakia, spanakopites and bags of koulourakia to distribute to our guests. Those items were very popular!
On Tuesday, September 22nd, the Ladies Philoptochos of Elkins Park, PA, were blessed to prepare and package 200 meals of chicken parmigiana, mashed potatoes and green beans and 100 pints of chicken noodle soup for the Aid for Friends Organization of Philadelphia. The meals were prepared in their kitchen, packaged in individual trays and frozen. The meals were then delivered to the Aid for Friends headquarters for distribution. The chapter has been preparing meals for Aid for Friends for years and considers it a “most heartwarming experience for all who participate.”
The Elpis Philoptochos chapter from Memphis, TN, joined the More Than a Meal program a little over a year ago. This is an ecumenical faith based program in the city of Memphis in which parishes throughout the city work together to feed the hungry. The Elpis chapter partnered with Grace St. Luke Episcopal Church and participates one Sunday a month.
They serve their guests supper and also bring along care bags with snacks, socks, water, etc., for them to take home. They pray together and talk with their guests, many of who come every Sunday, thus the name of the program More Than a Meal.
Each time they do the program, they serve 100 guests. They have now reached out to their community and their GOYA and men are participating along with Philoptochos members.
In addition, any time there is food left over from lunches or dinners held at their church, they bring the food to the Highland Heights Methodist Church where it is used on Monday when they run a soup kitchen from their site..
The Philoptochos chapter from St. Andrew in Randolph, New Jersey completed their first Feed the Hungry initiative at Trinity Lutheran Church soup Kitchen in Dover, NJ, on July 7, 2015. The guests were served pastitsio, prepared in the St. Andrew kitchen (as well as a salad, vegetables and dessert). The guests were very excited to try this “Greek” dish that they had never had before and offered many compliments and sincere... words of thanks to the servers.
That night, 100 people were served in the hall and 28 guests took takeout. The remaining food and three trays of prepared gyro meat were left for the subsequent lunch.
The volunteers for the evening feel that together they made a powerful statement of philanthropy.
Feed the Hungry is not a new initiative to the women of Woburn, MA. The Members of the Woburn, MA Philoptochos Society “Patris” have been supporting their local soup kitchen since 1987. For twenty-eight years, these women have volunteered their time and efforts monthly to shop, cook and serve hot meals to individuals and families in need. Patris is part of a bigger Ecumenical vision for the Homeless of Woburn and its surrounding communities.
The Dwelling Place was established in 1987 by the local clergy of Woburn, MA. Its mission is to feed individuals and families in need. Dwelling Place operates 3 times a week feeding about 30-35 people each time. Different Church groups, organizations and businesses host one night a month. From its inception, Philoptochos members from Patris immediately became involved. Individually, they have served 10,000 meals since 1987. Collectively, they have served over 90,000 meals since 1987.
Once a month, a group of women from the Annunciation Church of Woburn shop for and prepare a meal to serve the 30-35 individuals who stop in. Philoptochos “Patris” financially, emotionally and spiritually supports all of these endeavors.
Saint Sophia’s Philoptochos of San Antonio, Texas, has been preparing sandwiches for homeless and hungry people in need near the downtown area for the past four years. To help with this program, they have collected over 300 pounds of non-perishable foods, infant formula and money donations from coffee fellowships hosted by Philoptochos.
The chapter has partnered with Mobile Loaves & Fishes at St. Marl’s Catholic Church, where the lunch is served. They prepare sandwiches and also provide desserts, fresh fruit and snacks. So far this year, they have provided 798 lunches for this outreach.
In September, they will have a Festival of Tables as a fundraiser for this outreach and the San Antonio Food Bank.
This is the 11th year that the Philoptochos Chapter of St. Pareskevi of Greenlawn, New York, has been participating in the Huntington Interfaith Homeless Initiative (HIHI), a program comprising of over 30 churches, synagogues and community service organizations within the Huntington Township of Long Island, New York. The goal of this program is to ensure that everyone on Huntington has warm bedding, food and shelter in the winter months.
This program provides all guests with a hot dinner, a place to stay and sleep overnight, a hot breakfast and a bagged lunch. The guests stay in the church gym every Thursday night until Friday morning from December 1 through March 31. Each guest is provided with a mat, a clean blanket, pillow and pillow cases every week. Over the years, the chapter has served as few as 15 guests to as many as 45 guests overnight.
The Philoptochos of St. Pareskevi has always been a great supporter of the HIHI Program by annually funding the purchase of weekly breakfast food items, hosting dinner for the guests and volunteering their time to prepare food and serve the guests during the winter program. A few years, ago, this Philoptochos chapter was recognized by HIHI for Outstanding Achievement for their many years of supporting this program.
The organizations from the small parish of St. Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church in San Luis Obispo, California have been serving a monthly hot pancake breakfast to the homeless people in their county since 2010.
Once a month, they serve a hot breakfast at The Prado Day Center, not an overnight shelter but a facility that allows people to shower and rest during the day. A sign-up sheet hangs in their fellowship hall that lists all the food needed, as well as volunteers needed. Parishioners donate all of the food items needed each month and also volunteer their time either cooking, serving or both. If an item on the sign-up sheet is not donated, it is purchased from a fund that has been set up for that purpose. Because this facility does not have a complete kitchen, the food is prepared at their church and then transported in a Cambro (an insulated food transport) to the Day Center.
St. Andrew’s serves on the 4th Saturday of each month. The number of people served fluctuates with the season, but they serve between 50 and 100 people each month, including children. As a point of information - most chapters offer their programs at the end of the month since money seems to be tight at that time.
"Regardless of which side of the counter you are standing on, you are blessing the person on the other side, and they are blessing you. And back and forth the blessings flow..."
-Maria Apostoles, St. Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church, San Luis Obispo, CA
How We Did It- The Orginal Plan
Phase I of our National Philoptochos Feed the Hungry program was to reach out to our Chapters to find out who already has an established program. To get a true picture of what Philoptochos does nationwide, each Metropolis President chose 1-2 liaisons to gather the information from the Chapters’ experiences and information such as:
- How is it accomplished?
- How often?
- For how many people?
Phase II of the program will be to share the “good works” of our chapters so that others may use this information to start a program or perhaps improve or broaden an existing one. Along with the information, the liaisons will also be gathering photographs that portray volunteers involved in this most important work. We will be featuring different chapters in the “IN THE spotlight” section on our website.
Phase III of the program will be to reach or surpass our goal of providing 250,000 and to expand this program to more chapters throughout the country. How rewarding it will be to see this program as a permanent outreach program in all our chapters!
From the data you have sent us, we have grouped the information into the following categories:
- Chapters who cook and serve the hungry at their church
- Chapters who partner with Community Based Organizations (CBO) by either:
- Cooking at the Church and transporting to CBO to serve;
- Cooking and serving at CBO;
- Prepare food at Church and then drop off at a CBO
- Chapters who are starting a new program