By Charles Hoffacker

Josh Quigley faced a problem that’s become widespread in this time of pandemic. As the co-owner of three restaurants along the Grand Strand coastal highway in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, he recently had to lay off 100 workers, keeping only managers at reduced salaries. Yet as he put it, “Feeding people is my business, and I wanted to do something to help.”

Quigley recognized that he could feed first responders, a group that includes paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, fire fighters, and many more. He also saw that he could feed people working at risk to themselves in what are deemed essential enterprises.

He brainstormed with the Very Rev. William Keith, who is rector of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, and chaplain of the local fire department, to develop what is now known as Feed the Line.

They concluded that baked-pasta takeout meals serving four to eight people could be offered for $5. Some people volunteer to pay more or simply donate to the cause, knowing that Feed the Line provides free meals for anyone unable to pay. Quigley figured that he was earning enough from other takeout customers to cover the cost of feeding first responders, essential workers, and neighbors in need.

Father Wil is inviting other restaurants to participate. He envisions a series of restaurants each taking a turn one night a week to address these needs. The Holy Cross vestry has also been active in promoting practical responses to community challenges.

Feed the Line recalls major Christian themes such as the manna given to Israel during the Exodus, gospel stories of bread and fish multiplied to feed hungry crowds, and the sharing of Christ’s Body and Blood under the forms of bread and wine in the Eucharist.

This initiative also takes inspiration from One World Everybody Eats. Even before the pandemic, Josh Quigley had been intrigued by this network of pay-as-you-go cafes in America and around the world. According to the network’s website, member cafes “create spaces where people are nourished in body and soul. People come together, eat in dignity, and form strong bonds that foster an interconnected community.”

Besides serving meals, Feed the Line counteracts growing divergences found in the Pawleys Island community and in the nation as a whole. Those sheltering at home are often older people. Those going out into the world each day to work are often younger people. At the same time, those able to work from home are often better educated with higher incomes and more secure employment than those who leave home to work each day at jobs that may suddenly disappear, at least for a time.