Chance encounter at grocery store leads to creation of food ministry, changed lives

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Four years ago, a member of Collierville United Methodist Church was shopping at Costco when he noticed that employees were loading up pallets of leftover fresh produce.

“And he goes back there and asks, ‘what are y’all doing with that?’ He said, “we’re going to put it in the dumpster.’And he said, ‘what if I come pick it up?’ Because it all looked good you know,” explained Tommy Hart, President and co-cordinator of Resource Redistribution Ministry.

There was just one catch: they had to come every day and pick up the food. That’s exactly what Hart and a group of volunteers have been doing every since.

Their mission is to extend God’s love to their neighbors who are hungry by redistributing fresh fruits and vegetables that are donated by local grocers.

Trader Joe’s is another grocer who donates leftover produce.

WREG’s Corie Ventura caught up with Ron and Joanne Lipe, two of the 50 volunteers who load up in refrigerated vans for daily pickup and deliveries to food pantries, soup kitchens and even senior living communities for free.

The pair were delivering to Church of the Incarnation in Collierville the day WREG met up with them.

“Blueberries, bananas, raspberries. Saw eggplant. Apples. We always have apples. I think it was a total of nine hundred pounds today,” Ron Lipe said.

Once the church receives the food, they sort it and rebox it to hand out to neighbors in need. The ministry is making a difference and that’s why our anonymous donor wanted to give them $1,000.

“Inspiration for this and sort of the guiding light, it says Jesus instructed us, commanded us, let nothing be wasted,” said Hart.

A simple trip to a grocery store turned into feeding the food starved in our community. A true community changer.

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