Published Nov. 15, 2015 PHOTOS AND TEXT BY SARAH ANN JUMP
The Table, the market-style food pantry at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, offers more than just food every Tuesday. It also offers a sense of community and resources for healthy eating.
This past Tuesday, The Table was able to give out 21-pound bags of groceries, over half of which was fresh food. They acquire produce from the Flores family farm in Westmoreland County, a fact they proudly announce so that The Table’s shoppers know where the fresh fruits and vegetables came from.
Maria Coreas shops at The Table each week and enjoys cooking. “They have everything!” she said. When there are vegetables that Coreas and other shoppers are not familiar with, volunteers in the produce section pass along tips on the best ways to cook them.
Caroline Howe volunteers each week to do what she calls “improv cooking”. During the market, she makes dishes with whatever available ingredients may not be suitable for giving out—like bruised tomatoes and other produce on its last leg. The Table then offers samples of the food and drinks to its shoppers, with the goal of educating people on healthy ways to use ingredients they may have never cooked before.
Volunteer Gamal Soltan immigrated to the United States from Egypt in 2011. Knowing no one in this country, he came to The Table in search of a community. “I consider these people like my family,” Soltan said.
Debbie Fleischer, who has volunteered for over a year, knows that eating healthy on a budget can be a challenge. She says that volunteering helps her to put her life into perspective. “I came here to help and volunteer, but the other volunteers and the shoppers give me so much more than I can ever give back.”