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The account meal account and aliment abdomen at Union Baptist Abbey is not one of the better around. It’s not one of the oldest. It’s absolutely not one of the best modern. But it’s article special, in ample allotment because it was conceived of and still run by a active 92-year old woman, Miss Olivia High.

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If you access at the abdomen and kitchen, which is tucked into the basement of the abbey in the Bedford- Stuyvesant breadth of Brooklyn, aloof afore the meal account starts, you should get to apprehend a freeform address from one of the abbey leaders, accouterment a bit of airy sustenance afore the aliment is served. Abundant of the address focused on acknowledgment – acknowledgment for the aliment they were about to eat and booty home, for the volunteers, for the assignment of the abbey and the soup kitchen. On the day Laura Safran of City Harvest and I visited, Brother Wade was empathically cogent his listeners: “461 Decatur Street is actuality for a reason.”

Miss High took over as administrator of the abbey in 1997, afterwards actuality a affiliate for 40 years prior. She capital to accomplish her mark, and do article new for the community. It didn’t booty her continued to apprehend that putting calm a account aliment account affairs would be of abundant advice to some of the aggregation and the adjacency at large. In her absolute words, she knew “noth-ing” back she started. But she acutely knew there was a need.

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Now the 20-year old affairs takes abode every Wednesday from 12-2. About 200 bodies are served every week. Guests access and afterwards accepting registered can chose if they appetite a meal to stay, to go, or both, and again accept from a alternative of abdomen items to booty with them. A accumulation of volunteers does aggregate from processing deliveries to advancing aliment to handing out arid handwritten tickets to be exchanged for the take-home aliment to replenishing the stockroom with food. Aggregate about the abode is absolutely old school: the cardinal of guests who appear and go are recorded by duke on printed sheets, as are the aliment deliveries.

As the commons and abdomen items are handed out, we apprentice what came from City Harvest. In the kitchen, the deliveries from the accomplished anniversary accommodate trays of able aliment and sandwiches fabricated abnormally for Union Baptist Abbey by some City Harvest affiliated restaurants. A lot of the aftermath acclimated to accomplish added genitalia of the meal additionally accustomed via City Harvest.

Miss High walks us through the alternative in the storeroom, and the abdomen offerings accessible that day. There are absolutely a cardinal of cans, but acknowledgment to City Harvest there are additionally acceptable accoutrements of red lentils, beginning bread, red onions, and some added different produce. It additionally turns out that one of the refrigerators that allows the abdomen to action additionally came from City Harvest. Miss High worries aloud about accessible funds, and mentions several times how important City Harvest’s abutment is to her program.

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We accommodated Miss High’s Assistant Director, a actual airy Brother White. Brother White is 98. He is in allegation of the kitchen, and demography a little breather, accepting been at assignment back about 6:30 that morning. Brother White has been a affiliate of the abbey for 65 years (Miss High looks both admiring and a little afflicted that he has 5 years on her abbey associates tenure), and been Miss High’s #2 back the kitchen opened.

As we airing about Miss High introduces us: “They’re with City Harvest!” and the acknowledgment is burning and enthusiastic. She leads us all about the room, answering questions, greeting abiding guests, endlessly into the awash appointment to accomplish abiding tickets for an accessible fundraising raffle are actuality printed properly. She introduces us to her colleagues and some adept volunteers.

Before we alpha to attending too worried, she assures us that there is a assumption plan in place. There are some adolescent association advancing up the administration ladder – Miss High says teasingly but audibly in advanced of the abutting bearing (or two), “We’re affective chairs, and anon I’ll be giving up my seat. But no one absolutely wants my seat, because it’s hard!”

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During their aboriginal anniversary of accouterment food, they served 31 people. Recently during an abnormally active ages the recipients of the affairs numbered 9000. Besides the food, bodies are additionally acutely actuality for the company. The women training me in the food-sign-up systems accord me a airy active annotation on who’s who in the room: “That’s his aboriginal cousin, and my best acquaintance for 15 years.” “Excuse me, I gotta accomplish abiding she heard about Miss D’s hip surgery.” And then, quietly, a abrupt admonition of why we are in the room, “See her? Someone told me she’s been burglary food, out and about.”

The Union Baptist Abbey aliment abetment affairs serves an boilerplate of 200 bodies every week. In 2017, 146,000 pounds of that aliment came from City Harvest, abundant of it beginning able or beginning produce. So far this year, City Harvest has already delivered 24,448 pounds of food.

After 12 years on the City Harvest Board of Directors, my admired affair is to arch out into the acreage and see immediate how the assignment of City Harvest absolutely changes people’s lives. It will never stop alarming me, and authoritative me appreciative to be allotment of such a all-important and able organization.

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And I’ve apperceive alone a scattering of bodies in their nineties, but I’ve never met annihilation like Miss Olivia High.   If I get to that age, and accept a look of the backbone and adherence that Miss High has….well, let’s aloof say I would like to be Miss High back I abound up.

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