Story by Kacie Frederick. Photos by Jan Osborn.
It is estimated that more than 4,500 individuals are currently experiencing homelessness in the Dallas and Collin Counties. Scot MacRae, Coordinator of Taste of Hope Dallas, helps to feed this population through Cathedral of Hope’s outreach program.
Taste of Hope began in 2017 under John Erdos, who, along with fellow church patrons, started preparing meals for the homeless. As a resident of downtown Dallas, MacRae saw the effects of homelessness in our city daily and decided to get involved. Nevertheless, MacRae’s passion for feeding the homeless began long before Taste of Hope.
Growing up on a ranch in Kansas, MacRae was taught that food waste was not an option, as he and his four siblings grew their own food and raised cattle. MacRae thanks his mother for the exposure she gave to her children as an active community member, promoting the importance of helping others. But, when MacRae moved to Dallas, he noticed the homeless population driving home from lunches and dinner with friends.
“I hated seeing the food wasted,” says MacRae on his friend’s food thrown away after their brunch plans. “When I would drive home, I would see people on the side of the street hungry. So, I started asking them for their leftovers.”
MacRae did this for several months: Asking his friends for their leftovers after they finished their meal. Then on his drive home, he would give the salvaged leftovers to the homeless. One day, however, when handing out his last package to a frail older woman, a man stole it out of her hands. The woman then started to cry when MacRae told her he had no more food left. He decided from that day he needed to change that.
So, every Saturday morning, MacRae began making 100 peanut butter sandwiches to give to the homeless, along with a banana and a water bottle. Spending $40 a week out of his pocket, MacRae named his community work “Maple’s Project” after the elderly woman whose food was stolen. MacRae served over 12,500 peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless community. His efforts have gracefully shifted to Taste of Hope after being named Coordinator in June 2021.
“It’s just a really great feeling knowing that someone is going to feel like they are not forgotten,” says MacRae on feeding the homeless. “Knowing that they will not go hungry. That someone still cares.”
Each Tuesday, 15 Taste of Hope volunteers gather in the Cathedral of Hope’s kitchen to prepare 150 to 350 meals. The volunteers fix meals using rescued donated food from Costco and Trader Joe’s. The meals consist of fruit, bread, dessert, and a snack on top of the main course to present the love and warmth found in a home-cooked meal. The volunteers then individually package the meals with a water bottle in a bag for more volunteers to then pick up the meals and take them to the streets. Cathedral of Hope also serves Saturday morning breakfast at the church titled BACH, and a Monday lunch in the fellowship hall called ICare.
With the amount of food that Taste of Hope is able to rescue from Costco and Trader Joe’s, the outreach program has been able to expand to Irving, Richardson, Mansfield, Oak Cliff, Los Colinas, and Lake Highlands homeless communities. Over the last year, Taste of Hope has rescued 500,100 pounds of food, serving over 22,000 meals in the Dallas metroplex.
This month, Taste of Hope is participating in a month of service. On July 16, 2022, and July 30, 2022, Taste of Hope plans to prepare 500 meals each evening for their Meals of Hope initiative. Additionally, the food program has upped its Tuesday goal to 200-400 meals every Tuesday in July.
“As I’m told, I can’t save the world,” says MacRae with a laugh. “But it doesn’t hurt to pay it forward. Any one of us could be in a homeless situation, and I would hope someone would reach out and help.”
Taste of Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing hope to those living on the streets by transforming rescued donated food into home-cooked meals. Cathedral of Hope is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, making your donation tax-deductible. For more information or to donate, please visit: https://cathedralofhope.com/taste-of-hope/.