As part of Hyde School’s programming component community service, Hyde has forged a partnership with the Bath Food Mobile that will last through this school year. While in past years the Hyde community has volunteered and fundraised for a variety of causes, both of local and global concern, this year it was decided that the campus would focus their efforts on one initiative to try to make as large of an impact as possible. Many of the students and faculty had already been lending their time to helping out the Food Mobile, the local program administered by Grace Church that offers free food to needy families in the Midcoast area, so when Head of School Don MacMillan went to look for a program to work with, the Food Mobile came immediately to mind. MacMillan says of the partnership, “We’re very happy to be working with the Food Mobile. It is a great experience for the students and faculty to donate their time and do something to support the wider community. We look forward to the fundraising efforts to come.”
Near the end of each month the Good Shepherd Food Mobile rolls into the parking lot of Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. The sides of the truck roll up, tables come out, and volunteers from Grace, from the larger Bath Community, and from Hyde School pull out boxes of frozen meat, fresh produce, yogurt, eggs, and packaged groceries of all kinds. At the same time, members of Grace are making coffee and setting out pastries in the church hall so that people waiting for the truck can enjoy hospitality and conversation rather than waiting in a long line. Funding and participation come from all over the community, and the Food Mobile was recognized as “Community Project of the Year” by the City of Bath in 2011.
“[The students’] own generosity, as they carry boxes and talk with community members, is heartwarming for everyone involved.”
Hyde School students are particularly important to the effort. As people get ready to go around the truck and choose what they need, students approach them and ask if they would like help carrying their box. The boxes can get heavy, and the help is crucial to many Food Mobile users. The Rev. Michael Ambler, Rector of Grace, adds, “Hyde students come from all over the United States and all over the world. They see an aspect of this community at the Food Mobile that they might not see otherwise: they see that there’s real need, and also real generosity. Their own generosity, as they carry boxes and talk with community members, is heartwarming for everyone involved.”
The Food Mobile is at Grace the last Tuesday of every month (expect December, when it comes a week earlier) from 2 to 4 PM. Food is offered to anyone who needs it. Members of the community who are moved to help are invited to contribute towards the cost of a truck, or to come and help. The Rev. Ambler adds, “One of the things I value most about the Food Mobile is that there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It’s not unusual for a volunteer to slip away for a moment when their group is called, and fill a box for their own needs. The Food Mobile brings the whole community together.”
In addition to volunteering, the Hyde community has also pledged to raise $1,000 for the Food Mobile which will cover the cost for one truck. That $1,000 buys almost $9,000 worth of food through the food pantry for those in need. The major fundraiser will be a long-distance relay run from the Hyde Bath campus to the Hyde Woodstock campus in Connecticut. The event, which will take place at the beginning of the Thanksgiving vacation, is being spearheaded by faculty members Colin Foye and Peter Rowe. Faculty and students have already committed to being part of the team and will soon begin looking for pledges to support their run.