Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 1:21 PM
Rain Or Shine, Night Or Day, People Need To Eat
Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 1:21 PM
One thing is certain. Volunteering as a driver for the McKenna’s Wagon program is one of the best, most fulfilling opportunities available at Martha’s Table, hands down. It’s the work where the rubber literally meets the road. For me, there simply isn’t any place where the need is more pronounced nor the mission clearer. Rain or shine, night or day, people need to eat.
In this role, our volunteer Drivers get to lead a group of dedicated volunteer Helpers- and not just distribute but directly hand community members a hot meal each evening. But there is more to it than simply handing out food. They get to make deep connections. As a Kitchen Manager of McKenna’s Wagon program, I can tell you firsthand that it is one worthy cause.
Father Horace B. McKenna and Dr. Veronica Maz recognized this over 40 years ago when they founded Martha’s Table and instituted McKenna’s Wagon as its first program. And for 40 years, we have committed to standing alongside our neighbors by going out every single night of the year–rain or shine-to provide healthy meals to communities experiencing food and housing insecurity in the District.
The program itself is straightforward. Each day beginning at 6:30 am, we cook more than 200 meals (including a vegetarian option), sourcing ingredients from vendors or from partner organizations and in-kind donations when possible. In an effort to keep things exciting and not too repetitive, we have over 20 different meals in rotation for our neighbors to enjoy. With the invaluable assistance of our daytime volunteers, we box up these meals and send them out each evening in our van, where our Driver and Helper volunteers take over. In addition to hot meals, we also provide sandwiches, trail mix, as well as fruit, hygiene kits, blankets and more when we have them.
Our volunteers are truly the bread and butter of McKenna’s Wagon. Each is amazingly dedicated. I’ll mention Kelsey as a great example. Kelsey H. began volunteering with us in 2013 as a Helper. Like many people who volunteer with Martha’s Table, she has a strong commitment to service and helping out in the community wherever she can. To expand her capacity to serve, Kelsey transitioned to being a Driver and helps out every other week. She’s made a few deep connections that contribute to her wanting to come back again and again.
One neighbor Kelsey is fond of is someone who makes sure first-time guests receive food first before getting their own meal. “He’d been coming for so long and was so accommodating. He’s more than happy to move out of the way for a first-time visitor.” The compassion she sees from guests in moments like these inspires her to share that compassion every day, and it does not go unnoticed.
I am so grateful to be a Kitchen Manager in the McKenna’s Wagon program. I have the privilege of helping to ensure that some 200 people don’t go to bed hungry each and every night. If that weren’t enough, I am lucky to work alongside some of the best people in our city –the Drivers and Helpers who volunteer for this program.
If you’re interested in getting involved in the work we do at Martha’s Table to ensure our neighbors have access to healthy and delicious food, we cannot emphasize the importance enough and the impact volunteering for McKenna’s Wagon as a Driver or Helper has on the D.C. community. Please check out our Volunteer page and sign up for a Volunteer Shift today!
We look forward to seeing you at our Maycroft NW location for a volunteer shift with the McKenna’s Wagon program!
June 28, 2023 at 11:31 PM
In May 1983, Bethesda United Methodist Church collected 277 sandwiches to support Martha’s Table and its program McKenna’s Wagon, for the first time. In May 2023, the church celebrated 40 years of support by collecting over 2,000 sandwiches and trail mix.