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First Pres Delivers

From U-M sports concessions to a Detroit food pantry

by Jan Schlain

From the March, 2018 issue

Don Redding is a U-M sports fan, but when he enters Crisler Arena during a basketball game, he's not there to watch. He comes to "rescue" concession-stand food left unsold when the crowds leave. He and other volunteers from the First Presbyterian Church fill eighteen-gallon tubs with everything from brats to chicken tenders, which they store in a lower-level freezer. He'll later return to load the tubs into his SUV for the forty-minute drive to Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.

Located on Rosa Parks Blvd., Cass prepares and serves one million meals a year. The U-M leftovers, donated by concessions vendor Sodexo, make up just one small tributary of the river of food that keeps it stocked. The Presbyterians have been doing the collection and transport since 2011, and Redding estimates that between men's and women's basketball in the winter and football in the fall, they rescued eight tons of dogs, brats, burgers, pizza, and tenders last year.

With forty-five concession stands (compared to a dozen for men's basketball and only a couple for women's hoops), football is the biggest challenge, requiring six to ten volunteers and a golf-cart truck borrowed from Sodexo. Those hauls are so bountiful that Redding splits the deliveries between Cass and Detroit's Second Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Harper.

Both retired and married once before, the Reddings have twelve children between them. Now they deliver food to the hungry for free. As Don likes to say, "Christianity is not a spectator sport."    (end of article)

[Originally published in March, 2018.]


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