Church will continue to offer free hot meals and hope

Hope Fellowship is extending its Tuesday ‘We Feed’ program.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Just before going to work on Tuesday afternoons, Howard Boyd stops by Hope Fellowship Church in Daytona Beach for a free hot meal. Since June 6, the church has been providing free meals every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It’s a blessing from the Lord. Everybody here is very nice and friendly. The chef is a good cook.

Pastor John Paul McGee, left, is shown with Howard Boyd, who is a regular on Tuesdays.
(DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

The pastor is a good guy and everybody here seems live and happy,” Boyd told the Daytona Times.

The “We Feed’’ program at the church, located at 869 Derbyshire Road, is free and open to anyone in the community. The program has been attracting an ethnically diverse group as well as people of all ages.

“We want to bring hope to people and to the community. It’s not about joining the church. We do want to share the love of Christ with our community. We also want to bring hope,” said the Rev. John Paul McGee, senior pastor of Hope Fellowship.

Passion for pastor
McGee has only been pastor of the church for the past 10 months. His upbringing influenced him to create the feeding program.

“The Lord laid it on my heart to start feeding the community physically. My grandmother was a phenomenal cook and woman. She was a community woman in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

She had that southern charm. She always fed anyone in the community who stopped by her house,” he explained.

“The same passion is with me. As a pastor, I want to feed people both physically and spiritually.

Many times we feed people spiritually, but they need to eat physically. If you feed them physically, they will be in a better position to hear spiritually.’’

Will continue
The weekly food program was slated to end on Aug. 8, but it will continue.

Since its inception, it has averaged serving 70 people each week. By noon on Tuesday, about 50 people had stopped by for a free meal. Those who attend get a full-course hot meal and a dessert.

“We are going to continue it. At first, I didn’t know how many people would respond. People have been coming, and it’s been well-received. I’ve been asked if we would stop or continue when school starts,’’ McGee related.

“Another initial idea for this was to create something where kids who weren’t having lunch or breakfast in school or not eating theirs in school for some reason could have a place to come and have a meal. We will have it on the same day when school starts.”

‘A great feeling’
James Hines, the cook, is pleased with the reception.

“It’s a great feeling. I love it. I try to make every meal with love,” Hines told the Times.

For many who struggle to make ends meet, it’s a welcome addition to the city.

Boyd stated, “I see a lot of need for things like this in the community. I see people on my way to work each and every day. I know people that go days without eating and just drinking. I brought a guy here today that hasn’t eaten since Saturday.”

Drawing the homeless
The program also is drawing some of the area’s homeless.

“Every day people are hungry. We would love others to partner with us in this endeavor to make sure hunger is eradicated in the Derbyshire community. A lot of homeless have come. We have also created a room to provide clothing for those in need,” McGee shared.

“It is beyond important that we do our work not only as Christians but as human beings in this society to make sure that the lost, marginalized and homeless have a safe place to be involved with other human beings. It’s not always about feeding. It just they need to be talked to, listened to and understood.’’

A larger vision
Other churches across the city and in the Black community also have similar programs such as Master’s Domain Church of God in Christ on Freemont Avenue.

McGee believes churches can come together and provide programs on a larger scale.

He explained, “There is a need, but I think one of the best things that we can do as churches is come together hand to hand and heart to heart in order to make something better and more effective for our community.

“Maybe we don’t need more but maybe we can all come together and do one big thing for our community.”

More free food
Bethune-Cookman University has partnered with the church and other entities have donated so that those in need can continue to be served.

Hope Fellowship also has a food truck parked at the church on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., which offers free hot food for pick up.

For more information, contact Hope Fellowship Church at 386-226-1122 or visit www.hopefellowship.org.

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