The Bible speaks of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven.
That has not but been executed.
However Chris Leaver remembers when a weeknight dinner at First Lutheran Church was a marriage reception.
It occurred years in the past at The Banquet, a free weekly potluck open to the general public. Held on Thursday nights, the potluck is designed for individuals who might use a bit assist stretching their meals funds, together with others who simply wish to socialize a bit extra.
This 12 months marks the 10th anniversary of The Banquet, which has served greater than 71,000 meals since its inception in June 2012.
Leaver, program coordinator, mentioned the occasion started with a bunch of individuals brainstorming about what to do with a missions fund on the Fremont church. Three members of the group had the thought of offering a neighborhood feeding program. They visited different giant church buildings concerned in this kind of ministry.
“We type of copied a few of that,” Leaver mentioned.
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When this system started, roughly 125 folks got here to the church every week to share a meal on the church at 3200 E. Army Ave.
That quantity elevated to about 250 meals every week when the church applied a drive-through service because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, the church resumed its in-person eating with a meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, corn, fruit, a muffin and butter, and dessert.
Weekly in-person meals will proceed.
The service begins at 5:30 pm and ends at 6:30 pm A volunteer delivers 10 to 15 meals to homebound church members.
Individuals could make a financial donation if they need, however nothing is anticipated.
Meals are made within the church. Desserts are donated. Quite a lot of meals have been served, volunteer Teresa Fauss mentioned.
Some meals have included: meatloaf, roast beef or pork, grilled hamburgers, Tastee Deal with sandwiches, and varied sorts of casseroles. Favorites embody a stovetop hen and stuffing casserole referred to as “Connie’s Casserole” and a macaroni casserole that is like lasagna.
Along with the primary course, meals embody a potato, one other vegetable, and fruit. With the dinner in particular person, they may even embody a dessert and milk or espresso.
Fauss mentioned The Banquet has obtained donations of pork from Wholestone Farms and hen from Costco Lincoln Premium Poultry in Fremont.
“That basically helps with the price of getting meals out,” he mentioned.
Leaver mentioned funding for the meals comes from items, grants and memorial donations. Some visitors additionally make donations.
Fauss mentioned final week that volunteers weren’t positive how returning to in-person eating would have an effect on the variety of attendees, including that there shall be no takeout.
Leaver believes that inflation will affect attendance.
“The necessity is larger now than it was earlier than COVID,” he mentioned, including, “We positive have seen the price of our meals going up for this church program. I am positive the folks we’re attempting to succeed in are seeing the identical impression.”
Individuals of all ages come to the meals. Fauss has seen kids from one 12 months previous to people who find themselves over 80 years previous.
Bear in mind a lady who requested for a bit additional assist, as a result of that was the one meal she had that day.
On one other event, a person obtained up and commenced to scrub the tables.
When the volunteers advised her she did not want to do this, she mentioned, “No, that is the one factor I can do for you for all you do for me.”
One other man, who lives fairly distant, has ridden his bike to get meals for himself and this mom. He frequently attended meals in particular person earlier than the pandemic.
Leaver mentioned The Banquet can present a sizzling, nutritious, home-cooked meal to assist ease the household funds a bit. It additionally offers social interplay for different attendees.
“We now have church members coming,” Fauss mentioned. “They may sit and go to and dine. If somebody has misplaced their partner, they sit at residence alone to eat. This fashion, they’ve a spot to go.”
The work to arrange the meals begins earlier within the day. Fauss mentioned that Leaver prepares the menu.
And if roast is to be served, Leaver is available in early within the morning to place the meat on a spit to cook dinner.
“It cooks all day,” Fauss mentioned.
Fauss and her husband, Randy, Bonnie Warner and Julie Fechner arrive between 1:30 and a couple of pm and put together the remainder of the meals.
Final week, the crew made beans and sausage, baked potatoes, and pears.
They cooked 80 kilos of potatoes, 32 kilos of sizzling canines, and 12 cans of baked beans.
“Often we undergo eight or 9 giant cans of greens and fruits,” he mentioned.
When the church had take-out meals, solely about 5 or 6 volunteers served the meals and 4 did the cooking. Two different volunteers distributed the meals in entrance of the church.
Extra volunteers are wanted now that The Banquet has resumed in-person eating.
“We now have individuals who will serve drinks, convey drinks for the (diners) who should not very cellular,” Fauss mentioned.
Different volunteers are wanted to donate desserts, wash dishes, and set tables, with placemats and tablecloths.
Fauss added that those that come to the meal eat with actual cutlery, cups and glasses, moderately than disposable ones, so the setting is good for visitors.
Leaver and Fauss look to the long run.
“It has been going rather well over the 10 years,” Fauss mentioned.
Leaver additionally has a fond reminiscence of a pair’s banquet, which he frequently attended. On a Thursday, they have been married on the county courthouse after which went to The Banquet that evening to have fun their marriage ceremony.
“We had a violinist, a pianist, and we obtained non-alcoholic champagne for all of the visitors,” Leaver mentioned. “That was type of cool.”