Certainly one of Ann Arbor’s latest meals vehicles, FedUp, is devoted to not promoting meals, however to addressing meals injustice and meals insecurity by providing free meals with a aspect of hope and dignity.

Headquartered at Zion Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, with whom FedUp companions, FedUp is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Southeast Michigan Synod, ELCA. The truck might be discovered each Wednesday at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor. Since final July, FedUp has served over 7,000 free meals to folks of all faiths. 

“Starvation is aware of no bounds or boundaries. Starvation would not care about race, class, the place you reside, or the way you look. Your neighbor may very well be hungry and also you may do not know,” says Rev. Anna Taylor-McCants, govt director of FedUp. “FedUp has been on a mission to function many individuals as we are able to, and it is our objective to succeed in much more of us in communities which might be food-insecure and economically exploited.”
FedUp govt director Anna Taylor-McCants.
Slightly than offering a one-size-fits-all brown-bag meal to each visitor, FedUp workers take particular care to cater meals to friends’ preferences and dietary restrictions. The charity’s govt chef, Shari Spencer, has over 30 years of culinary expertise underneath her belt and leads a small workforce of volunteers in creating nutritious meals principally from scratch. 

The FedUp workforce acknowledges that permitting folks to decide on meals that meet their bodily, emotional, and non secular wants additionally permits folks to keep up their dignity. The truck presents vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu choices, and workers custom-cook orders when wanted. 

“We actually understood the worth of this at Christmas. Individuals are grateful to have [meatless] choices,” Taylor-McCants says. “It is necessary to us that we make meals the best way folks need or want it, in order that nobody leaves hungry.”

For Mykayla Richards, FedUp’s strategy is invaluable as a result of it offers sustenance not solely to an individual’s physique, but in addition to their thoughts and soul. Her perception comes from having been on either side of the meals truck’s window. Richards is homeless, and he or she’s been an lively FedUp volunteer since she moved into Ann Arbor’s Robert J. Delonis Middle in January.
FedUp volunteer Mykayla Richards.
“There’s all the time a loving household environment and the meals is all the time wholesome and scrumptious,” she says. “Individuals are all the time blown away by what we do. I am nonetheless all the time blown away by what we do.”  

Richards says she’s “achieved all of it” in her brief time working for FedUp, from squeezing lemons for the truck’s signature lavender lemonade to chopping salad components and studying extra about kitchen and meals security “than most strange folks ought to ever need to know.” By taking friends’ orders and inquiring about dietary wants, Richards has come to grasp simply how necessary FedUp is to the neighborhood. 

“When you concentrate on a meals truck, you concentrate on simply grabbing a meal, however at FedUp, we need to know what you want. Possibly it is simply meals. Possibly it is housing or simply somebody to speak to,” Richards says.

She provides that she’s additionally discovered extra about herself within the course of, and that the expertise has modified her life. 
FedUp volunteer Mykayla Richards and FedUp govt director Anna Taylor-McCants at Liberty Plaza.
“As issues progress, I’ll work for FedUp and receives a commission for what I do,” she says. “I will not be completely satisfied concerning the scenario that I’m in now, however I’ve already came upon make it higher and the way I could make different folks’s days higher.”

Taylor-McCants can be eager about the longer term. She’s engaged on increasing FedUp’s companies to incorporate cellular bathe and laundry companies.

“When persons are fed and so they look good and their garments scent good, it builds up their dignity,” she says. “It is actually about feeding and caring for the entire particular person.” 

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a contract author and editor presently based mostly in Ann Arbor. She might be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

All pictures by Doug Coombe.

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