On a daily basis father and son duo Bill and Matt Peck live out Jesus’ call to “feed the hungry” that is found in Matthew 25.  In 2023, they prepared over 7,000 meals for local people facing food insecurity in the Philadelphia region.

Both are longtime parishioners at Saint John Chrysostom in Wallingford. Four days a week, 95-year-old Bill is in the parish kitchen at 4:00 a.m. He is soon joined there by his son Matt, 63.

Parish Facilities Manager, Chris Sulpizio, helps store the bounty prepared by Bill and Matt in the parish freezers for delivery to numerous partners in Chester and Philadelphia counties, including Caring for Friends in Philadelphia, ACCESS Community Center in Chester, and Saint John’s Hospice in Philadelphia, a homeless ministry of Catholic Social Services in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“They’re so creative and put so much love into what they prepare,” says Sister Cathy McGowan, SSJ, Director of ACCESS Community Center.

“Every single thing is prepared by hand.  Their cooking puts flesh on the Gospel message and fills the bellies of those in need.”

Bill moved to the Philadelphia area from Connecticut in the 1950s to work for the Piasecki Helicopter company, which later became Vertol Corporation before being purchased by Boeing in 1960.

He met Margaret Whelan, a resident of Springfield, Delaware County.  They were married at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Springfield, and eventually settled into a big house in Wallingford, where they raised 6 children – Kevin, John, Matthew, Nancy, William, and Mark.

Margaret started providing homecooked meals to hungry people in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia through an organization called Aid for Friends, now Caring for Friends, over 25 years ago.

After his wife passed away in 2011, Bill decided to sell his large home, and move in with son Matt, also a widower.

Through Margaret’s inspiration, father and son started cooking meals for the needy in their parish’s kitchen.

Twice a month, they shop for ingredients at Costco, purchasing mostly beef – Bill says “cheeseburgers are always a hit” with the meal recipients – some chicken, and occasionally ham and pork for variety.

Bill says he can turn one Costco roasted  five pound chicken into 10 meals for those in need along with stuffing, potatoes, and a vegetable as sides.

Bill especially enjoys preparing what he calls “Sweet Chicken” – a mixture of apricot preserves, dried onion soup mix, Italian salad dressing, and diced chicken thigh meat baked in the oven and then ladled over rice.

Always aiming to please, Bill says he appreciates hearing direct feedback from the people he feeds, saying “We can adjust our output accordingly.”

Bill and Matt personally deliver meals twice a week to Sister Cathy and Sister Maggie Gannon, OSF at ACCESS Community Center.

“These two men have really helped in a community that’s suffered with food insecurity,” said Sister Cathy.  She says Bill and Matt have helped “thousands of people in Chester,” though she notes the men have “great humility” in what they do.

A year ago, Bill and Matt’s parish celebrated the men at Mass, presenting them with a bundle of new cooking utensils and ingredients.

“They’re so dedicated,” says Father Edward Hallinan, pastor of Saint John Chrysostom.

Father Hallinan, who’s known Bill for around 30 years, says Bill’s “generosity knows no bounds,” noting that all of the ingredients Bill purchases to prepare meals “comes out of his pocket.”

Though he sees much generosity among his parishioners, Father Hallinan calls Bill and Matt’s generosity as “stand out” with the thousands of meals they donate each year.

“We’re all called to imitate Christ by what we do,” Father Hallinan says.  “One of the ways to do this is being generous to people in need.  That’s the deeper reality.”