It started last year when a friend of mine from another church emailed me and asked if I'd mind rounding up some people at my church and feeding the students at the college mission two meals one week a month. I said sure!
It was a harder endeavor than I'd anticipated. The first two meals I did on my own and out of my own pocket (though I had some help with cooking and setting it all out). It was a learning experience. The next time, I'd managed to enlist some help and for half a year, a few of us would take a portion of the meal and bring that, set up together and eat with them. It was a bit of a struggle though, to get people to volunteer. I was a bit relieved when summer rolled around and we weren't doing meals anymore.
Time kept passing and soon enough, fall and the start of the new school year was right around the corner, so I contacted the priest there and asked if they were planning to do the same thing again this year. They were, so I went to work on our women's group at the church.
They voted to donate $100 for the weeks that we were preparing food for the students. I got some volunteers too.
Then something unexpected happened. One of our parishoners donated $500 toward feeding those students! We could relax the $50/meal rule (though I still view that as a challenge!) a bit, especially if the number of students increased. I was so touched that he would do that. Then, people started volunteering to cook and serve. Last month, I didn't have to go over there at all - other people took care of it!
All of the students are very appreciative. They come into the kitchen before dinner, while I'm setting things out, and when dinner's over to thank me and whoever is with me for providing them with a good meal.
When people ask, I tell them - an entree, a salad and/or vegetable, bread and if the spirit moves you, some kind of dessert. Make sure there's plenty. We have someone who is gluten-free and a couple of vegetarians, so I try to make sure there's something there that everyone can eat. Tonight's dinner was chicken tetrazzini, garlic bread, salad, and gluten-free carrot cake (with a regular pound cake as an alternative). It disappeared.
With the economy the way it is, I know some of these students are holding down multiple jobs in addition to going to school just to make ends meet. I feel like providing them with a couple of meals a month is the least I can do for the young people who are the future of my church.
Feeding so many people is a lot of work, but very rewarding. And it makes hosting a holiday meal for my family look like a walk in the park!