Fritchey eager to begin battle against hunger


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

Efforts to feed the hungry in Mississippi received a boost this month with the hiring of a regional director for the Society of St. Andrew to work in the state.

Bob Fritchey was scheduled to spend this week at SoSA’s offices in Big Island, Va., and then arrive in Mississippi by Dec. 12.

The Society of St. Andrew is a hunger relief organization. The group promotes programs that gather edible but commercially rejected foods from fields, food service organizations and other sources and channels it to those in need.

“I have worked for the past eight years in West Tennessee helping those in need with numerous programs,” Fritchey said. “While doing this, the number of hungry people has amazed me. I have believed for years that there is enough food in this country to feed all of its citizens. It was just finding the right people with their hearts in the right place to start the ball rolling and make this happen. The Society of St. Andrews is just such an organization.

“Once I got to know the people behind SoSA I knew I wanted to work with them to help make this goal a reality.”

The 2005 Mississippi Annual Conference in June committed to funding a regional office for two years. The office will be located on the campus of Wood Institute in Mathiston.

“I am delighted to welcome the new SoSA staff as they begin work among us,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. “The generous offering at the 2005 Annual Conference has made this ministry possible, undergirding the work now unfolding in very intentional and productive ways.”

Said Mike Waldmann, director of operations for Society of St. Andrew: “The Society of St. Andrew is thrilled to have Bob come aboard to run our new office in Mississippi. Bob has a passion for ministry with those in need and has a wonderful ability to get things done. His leadership will have a huge impact on the problem of hunger in Mississippi.”

Fritchey won’t be working alone. Plans call for hiring a program director.

“My position is more involved in telling the story, visiting churches and potential people to be involved,” Fritchey said. “I’ll also be connecting with the growers and people who have stuff they want to get rid of.

“The program director follows that effort with building the volunteer base; hands on people gleaning fields and hosting the potato drops.”

Fritchey said establishing those links are vital to the success of the program.

“I hope to bring together the farmers, volunteers, churches, food pantries and organizations throughout the state that want to help feed the hungry,” he said, “believing that once they see how this can be accomplished by capitalizing on their strengths and resources that they will become strong supporters of the SoSA effort. With God’s help and direction, I hope to bring my experience and talents to the Mississippi Regional Office of the Society of St. Andrews to make it a huge success.  When this is accomplished I feel that Mississippi can become a major supplier of salvaged food to the hungry.”

A native of Illinois, Fritchey has worked the past eight years as community services director of Reelfoot Rural Ministries, a program of the Memphis Conference of The United Methodist Church.