Jackie Hardy boxes a meal he prepared as coordinator of the West Orange Christian Service Center's Daily Bread Program.
— Preparing a meal for the hungry
Jackie Hardy is a trained culinarian who has worked as an executive chef all over the country. He even served as a chef at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia. Now retired from the corporate world of food, Hardy still has his hands in meal preparation as the new coordinator of the Daily Bread Program at the West Orange Christian Service Center in Ocoee.
Hardy has been with the CSC for 18 months, previously working at the downtown Orlando campus as a volunteer before taking a part-time position there. He started at the Ocoee location two months ago. In his full-time position, he makes sure there are enough volunteers each day, develops nutritious menus and does half of all the cooking while overseeing the other cooks, procures food for the mission and maintains relationships with the CSC’s community partners.
Partners such as KFC, Winn-Dixie, Target and Bread of Life Fellowship donate food on a weekly basis; volunteers in the community give food, too.
Such partnerships are important, because Hardy and his crew prepare 200 meals a day for CSC clients, who pre-register for the lunchtime meal.
“We don’t ever turn anyone away,” he said, adding that anyone who is hungry will be served a plate. “We always have a hot meal for them, maybe chicken, starch and a vegetable. … Whatever it is that we get in, I pull it all together and make it edible.”
The Daily Bread program was established at the Christian Service Center in 1975 to help feed Central Florida’s hungry individuals and families.
“I think the Lord called me several years ago about this,” Hardy said. “Now I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to doing this. And at 51, this is a good job to have until I retire.”
The West Orange Christian Service Center is in need of donations for lunch on Thanksgiving Day, when about 50 turkeys will be cooked and served.
Anyone wishing to donate either a turkey or a grocery store gift card can call Rosemary Wilsen, program coordinator for the Family and Emergency Services Program, at (407) 656-6678. Donations can also be dropped off at the center, 300 Franklin St., Ocoee.