It all started with a pot of coffee.
About 20 years ago, Steven*, a poverty-stricken man who suffered addiction, walked into the First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City and was given a cup of coffee. One cup turned into two, then three, until pots of coffee were gone.
After repeated visits to the church, pots of coffee turned into full meals that were served as a part of the church’s services on Wednesday night. Time passed, and Steven brought friends who were also in need, and those friends brought their friends.
What was then just a happenstance gathering is now the This Day Project, a Hunger Outreach program held every Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church of Johnson City. This weekly program offers a hot meal and serves up to 89 people. In 2019, 2,590 people received a hot meal, 1,553 frozen meals were packaged and distributed, 188 free summer lunches were provided, and 213 grocery bags of food were given to families.
Not only does the program foster the physical hunger of individuals in need, but it also works to aid in thesocial and emotional hunger as well. The workers and volunteers who operate this program build personal relationships with these individuals. Diane Olmstead, Outreach Coordinator, states, “I can think of two volunteers whose lives have changed. It’s more than just handing out a salad every Wednesday. Volunteers start to talk with the people receiving that salad, and now they know each other by name and how each other’s kids are doing.”
The This Day Project fosters an inclusive, discrimination-free environment. The program also works to identify more than food insecurity challenges, adapting the program to feature job training skills in the foodservice industry. Many of those who take part in the yearlong training covering everything from food preparation to interaction, have gone to become employees of the program and church.
Through the selfless donations of individuals and organizations, United Way of Broome County has been able to provide funding to the This Day Project. If you would like to donate to this program or any nonprofit throughout Broome County, visit here.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.