The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls people to true freedom. United to Jesus by faith and empowered by His Spirit, His followers are now free to “serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:13). Freed from the penalty and power of enslaving sin, Christians can now follow the example of Jesus who “gave Himself up for us” on the cross (2:20). Faithfully serving others is not only a priority, but also a source of joy and a reflection of gratitude to God for all He has provided in Jesus Christ.
The steady beat of service at the Mission is perhaps most obvious in the meals provided each year – twice daily – through the George L. Shields Bread of Life Kitchen. So far in 2021, that’s an average of nearly 8,000 meals served each month! These meals are always available, even if inclement weather forces other Mission programs to close temporarily. People who experience hunger and food insecurity in our community can always find a warm, nutritious meal for breakfast and lunch.
Kitchen Manager Mary Thompson works hard to make sure that the meals she serves are fresh, nutritious, and delicious. Each week she takes an inventory of the current fresh food options available to her through the Maryland Food Bank, generous local partners, and kind donors. “I always like to use fresh items first,” says Mary, “and supplement with canned goods when I need to.”
Mary enjoys exercising creativity in developing her menus so that guests will not only have variety in their meals, but also will have the opportunity to try something new. “I like to put my spin on things!” she says. She is encouraged by the compliments she receives from Mission guests each day. Recently, one of her guests presented her with a beautiful bakery-made cake for “all the hard work you do.” Amid serving others, Mary was served through the kindness of one of her guests.
Changed Life Recovery Program Director Carlton Hill and Guy Mutchler, Director of Food Services and Facilities, manage the kitchen operations together. Carlton oversees food preparation, kitchen staff, and volunteers, while Guy manages the logistics of equipment, product deliveries, and inventory. “The kitchen is one of the most challenging places to work,” Carlton says.
“Those who serve in the kitchen have a real heart for God,” observes Carlton. He explains that many guests who come through the line at lunchtime, for example, may have just arrived from a court appearance, an eviction, or any number of difficult experiences. “It’s the smiles and joyful service they find from our staff and volunteers that make a big difference to them. And they are so thankful.”
During the COVID pandemic in 2020, the network of service expanded for the Mission. Due to the increased demand for food throughout the county, the newly created F.O.O.D. program extended the reach of products out into local neighborhoods through such organizations as I Believe in Me, Inc. Although this program is dedicated to mentoring youth in our community, they recognized an emergent need and began arranging food drops. Executive Director Aje Hill turned to the Mission for help and has received millions of pounds of food, delivered each week, and distributed through their drop locations.
“Frederick Rescue Mission has always been aware of the hunger insecurity within our community,” say Aje. “When COVID-19 hit our community hard, the Mission partnered alongside of I Believe in Me to provide critical grocery needs to over 90,000 families. Words could never express the gratitude and appreciation we hold for the Frederick Rescue Mission!”
Now that the COVID crisis has diminished somewhat, Aje has discontinued food drops so that he can turn his full attention back to mentoring. However, those in need can still find plenty of perishable and nonperishable food products here at the Mission, both through our daily meals and through the Food Distribution Center (FDC). Currently, the FDC is open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:30-3:30pm, and on Thursday from 2-6pm. Local neighborhood food drops can be located through an interactive map, which can be accessed at therescuemission.org/programs/f-o-o-d.
In December, we will celebrate the third anniversary of the grand opening of our newly renovated George L. Shields Bread of Life Kitchen. We are grateful that the Mission can continue to serve as a place where guests can once more gather in our dining hall while they enjoy their meals. Whether serving meals from our kitchen or providing food through the FDC and F.O.O.D. ministries, the Mission is eager to serve the Frederick Community and to help free others from hunger and food insecurity. Freely serving others in love is how we hope to change lives now and for eternity.