Waste not, want not: When Alabama Power line crews restored power earlier than expected after heavy tornado damage in and around Birmingham and surrounding areas, the company on March 29 was left with 375 boxed breakfasts.
Alabama Power’s Storm Logistics Team made sure the food didn’t go to waste. Engineer Christy Hyche of Power Delivery Budget and Planning, contacted Food For Our Journey (FFOJ), a Birmingham nonprofit that daily supplies meals to homeless and food-insecure residents.
“After exceeding our original power-restoration estimates, we were able to shut down the Birmingham Division staging site after dinner on March 28,” said Lindsey Crawson, a meeting and event specialist at Alabama Power. “Breakfast had previously been ordered for the staging site and couldn’t be canceled.”
FFOJ got its start in October 2018, when Kelly Greene and Christine Golab began delivering food to the homeless from their cars. In January 2020, FFOJ got a cargo van. Last year, the 501(c)(3) group donated more than 153,000 meals to the Magic City’s underprivileged. FFOJ is on target this year to accomplish even more, Greene believes.
Greene said the food donation from Alabama Power came just in time to feed hungry Birmingham residents.
“We were glad to pick up the food,” said Greene, FFOJ executive director. “We received the plated breakfasts and got on the road to hand out the meals. We hand out a minimum of 400 meals a day.”
The meals made by Full Moon Bar-B-Que – which Alabama Power would have supplied to line crews – included eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage, milk and orange juice, along with individually packaged utensils and condiments.
Greene and her team met the Full Moon delivery trucks Monday. After transferring the packaged meals to their cargo van, Greene and FFOJ Assistant Director Christine Golab began their cross-town route. Greene and Golab are on the road by 9 a.m. weekdays. Numerous volunteers help with food donations and assist in delivering meals on weekends.
The team’s route starts at 22nd Street at Fourth Avenue North, where they deliver food at a stationary location, then go to Brother Bryan Park, staying about an hour to distribute meals. From there, they crisscross avenues and streets up through Avondale, all the way to the Red Mountain area. The team often drops off meals to homebound and quarantined residents.
“We start on the northside, move to Southside, and hand out meals under the interstate and at tent cities, anywhere the homeless or food-insecure people are living,” Greene said. “Our overall mission is to eliminate food waste by using food that’s been prepared. Through breaking bread with one another, we get to know the needs of the food insecure. Food is an innate right we all have to be nourished.”
FFOJ gets to know the people and is required to improve their lives. Partnering with city and state agencies, FFOJ helps the homeless to obtain a driver license, which is required for housing and to get a job. Greene said they’ll occasionally see people at one location, then won’t see them for a day or more, depending on people’s transportation or employment.
“We’ve worked with the homeless for years. We get to know the people and know what they need,” Greene said. “We plug people into partner agencies where they can get help in things like applying for a drivers license, applying for housing, receiving medical care, help with filing for the stimulus, taxes or unemployment, and filling out job applications.”
FFOJ’s work never ends. During Easter weekend, volunteers will deliver fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, bread and dessert to the homeless, thanks to Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover.
Greene pointed out that FFOJ’s mission is built on love, as an action – not a feeling.
“Just being able to share in the lives of our friends on the streets is humbling,” Greene said. “They’re just like you and I, they’ve just got different circumstances. Our goal is to be able to talk with them and share with them, so we can help them to reach their dreams.”