By Liam Martin

NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) – This is an accident of the best kind, a story about two men who started a food program, by accident. Today, the Accidental Food Bank provides food for thousands of people on the North Shore.

It’s a typical morning for John Tierney and Stu McNeil at the North Andover Stop and Shop. Five or six days each week they’re here, and at two other grocery stores, collecting food that’s approaching its sell-by date.

They started 10 years ago after coming to Stop and Shop to pick up some goodies for a community coffee group the two retirees were in. What the store manager told them changed their lives. “He goes, I’m throwing three to four dumpsters of food away a month. He goes, it’s killing me. It just breaks my heart to do it,” Stu recalled.

Stu McNeil and John Tierney load food into a car (WBZ-TV)

The Accidental Food Bank was accidentally born. “Ten years later we’re doing three stores and maybe a couple million dollars of food donations a year,” said Stu.

“The community is more important than anything else. They don’t go hungry. The people do not go hungry,” added John.

They don’t go hungry because of the hard work of this two person operation, loading the food in their own cars and burning their own gasoline. “I killed a car, basically,” said Stu. “We both did. He killed a Toyota, I killed a Volvo. Now we’re on our second vehicles,” John said with a chuckle.

John Tierney and Stu McNeil created the Accidental Food Bank (WBZ-TV)

They deliver to veterans groups, food banks and the North Andover Senior Center. “The work that John and Stu do is amazing. They’re helping feed people who would otherwise go hungry,” said Denise Casey, North Andover’s Deputy Town Manager.

And they don’t plan to quit. “You turn around and see the need out there, it’s just incredible,” Stu said. “My heart goes out to these people, and all I want to do is help them,” John added.

They estimate they provide food to about 24,000 people each year.

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