The previously twice-a-month “Come to Supper” meal at First Lutheran Church will now occur every week.
The Rev. Greg Friedrich of First Lutheran Church announced last week that the weekly meals will start on Feb. 12. They will be at the same time as before, from 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays at the church.
The meals are organized through the Jefferson County Hunger Dialogue, which two years ago began serving a free meal to people in need on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.
“We had no idea if the plan would be successful,” said Friedrich. “We started out slow, with only six to 10 individuals coming to the meals. However, over time, participation increased and we are now serving between 50 and 60 people. The guests have been very thankful for the meal.”
Friedrich said the uptick in participation has been noticeable in the last three to four months, with more young families coming than before. He said word of the meal is finally percolating throughout society. “I also think that it took that long for people to trust that it was totally free, no questions asked,” he said. “People might have thought there was a little religious undertone, but really, we just let them come and eat the meal.”
Friedrich said Jefferson County Hunger Dialogue has been blessed with a great group of volunteers who have committed to the cause. Several churches in the area, civic groups, care facilities and health centers have taken turns providing the meal. Since its inception, the meal has been served at First Lutheran Church. The organizers decided it was best to keep the meal at a consistent location.
As a result of the change, even more participation from churches and civic groups is needed. Those who can help are asked to contact Friedrich at 472-4184, or email him at email@example.com.
Groups that agree to help get to create their own menu for 60 people and are responsible for cooking the food off-site (Friedrich said state regulations prevent them from cooking the food in the church itself), serving it to the public, and cleaning up afterward. Jefferson County Hunger Dialogue supplies utensils and paper plates. Friedrich said one particular individual in the community has been donating milk for every meal.
“We get more groups to donate meals all the time,” Friedrich said. “Sometimes they’re not even organizations at all, they’re just a group of ladies who play cards together.”
Friedrich said February’s meals are taken care of, and he has one open date in March, two open dates in April, but the rest of the year is up for grabs.
Though he’s glad Jefferson County Hunger Dialogue found the resources to make this a weekly event, Friedrich is saddened that it had to.
“It’s exciting to do it more often, but I wish the hunger wasn’t there,” he said.