The Rev. James Pressley and Erica Marshall, along with several volunteers, spent Saturday evening handing out meals to seniors and the homeless in Atlantic City who they felt are at particular risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We wanted to do something for the seniors," Pressley said. "We're all struggling, but seniors and the homeless are a population we wanted to help."
Soup and sandwich, with a side of hope
Pressley runs Elder J.P. Ministries, and Marshall owns E'cha Heart Out Catering. They worked with the Atlantic City Housing Authority to identify Inlet Towers on the north end of Absecon Island as a location that could use the help. Inlet Towers predominantly houses seniors and people with disabilities.
On the menu was fried, baked and barbecued chicken along with string beans, rice, mac and cheese, rolls and drinks. Popeyes of Mays Landing donated the fried chicken, but everything else came from Marshall, who has run her catering business out of the city for five years.
"I love to cook, I love to feed people," Marshall said. "Whenever I get a call, I'm on it."
Pressley and Marshall devised the menu together.
"We wanted to give them a hearty meal," Pressley said. "Something that would stick."
The two hoped to hand out 350 to 400 meals Saturday. Fliers were put in every door of the housing center Friday notifying residents of the free meal.
A little after 4 p.m., Pressley, Marshall, volunteers from the Atlantic City Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a representative of the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office were set up and ready to go in a room on the ground floor of the tower. Everyone was mindful of following federal guidelines regarding social distancing.
A person from Atlantic County has died from COVID-19, state officials said Thursday.
The meals were boxed up in advance, and residents entered one at a time to make their decision as to what kind of chicken they liked best. The volunteers were all gloved and wearing masks.
Once everyone in the tower had a chance to grab a meal, the group headed out to distribute food to any homeless or less fortunate individuals they could find in the city.
Asked what brought her out Saturday to feed everyone, Marshall gave a short answer.
"My heart," she said.