For some people, it’s a moment in time. For others, it may be an ongoing activity. For Chris Luebbe, multiple experiences have led to his purpose of service, which is truly at his core.
Along the journey that led Chris to the Food Bank of South Jersey in February 2022 as the Senior Manager for Direct Service Programs, many different experiences propelled him toward his work helping to feed neighbors near and far.
For one, growing up as the son of a Lutheran minister in a family of seven in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, had a profound impact on Chris.
“I’ve always been very interested in food,” he said. “I worked on a farm in high school, loved to cook, and my family was also food insecure. I lived that experience of we’re not going to heat the house, but we will have food.”
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Chris worked for several years at his alma mater advising undergrads. He took a group of students on a service-learning trip one summer to India to volunteer with a community organization in New Delhi.
“It is like that cliché – the moment that changed my life,” Chris said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do. Work on basic quality-of-life issues directly with communities.”
Before serving for three years with the Peace Corps in Thailand and returning to the area to work in the Americorps VISTA program in Philadelphia, Chris was also trained in social justice mediation with the University of Michigan’s the Office of Conflict Resolution. This experience truly grounded his life in service and is reflected in his work today leading FBSJ’s direct service programs, like the Summer Meals program that feeds kids throughout South Jersey.
“The whole idea of social justice mediation is that you look for the person in the room in that conflict that has the least voice, the least power, and you make a space for that person to speak,” Chris said. “In addressing issues of food insecurity, I want for everyone, but especially for those most vulnerable – children and seniors. I’m especially committed to serving them to the best of my ability.”
Chis has truly built his career to help others speak.