Community Gem: Chuck Wourms provides mobile response to hunger

BEAVERCREEK —Pantries in a fixed location tend to draw people from around the building, Chuck Wourms said.

“What about all of those individuals who don’t have access to a meal?” said Wourms, the founder and director of Food for the Journey Project. The nonprofit provides 50,000 free hot meals each year, setting up in various neighborhoods throughout Dayton.

It’s a “mobile response to hunger,” said Wourms, 65, of Beavercreek.

Many people don’t have the ability or means to travel even modest distances, he said. Others aren’t able to prepare meals. Wourms and a core group of 60 volunteers, with hundreds of other individuals and groups helping along the way, prepare and serve meals four or five times each week.

Much of the food is donated, and often the specifics of the menu aren’t finalized until the day of the meal, he said. Volunteer cooks prepare the food, and the organization even has a mobile kitchen to use when needed.

Nancy and John Woeste of Miamisburg have volunteered with the project since 2019 and nominated Wourms as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.

“What I like most about his ministry is his focus on the people who come to Food for the Journey are our guests for the meal,” Nancy said.

Wourms had helped to accomplish that with tablecloths and seasonal decorations, she said. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the project to switch to grab-and-go meals, Wourms makes a point to have conversations with guests and to build a sense of community among the volunteers, John said.

Guests to Food for the Journey Project are often at a vulnerable moment in their lives, Wourms said. He wants to make sure they feel like they have been invited to a meal, and not that they have had a meal thrust upon them.

“At that moment, they’re our guest, and we always want to make people feel that way,” Wourms said.

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