Onalaska United Methodist Church’s Community Dinner, established in November 2009, continues to nourish the body and spirit thanks to generous church and community support. Open to all at no cost, the dinner is held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.
Where Does the Food Come From? The majority of the food comes from the Hunger Task Force, the area’s only free and local food bank. The Hunger Task Force collects, sorts, stores and distributes food gathered during food drives or donated by producers/ distributors who have excess stock. This includes everything from fresh produce to frozen goods. The Hunger Task Force, in turn, supplies local food pantries with items suitable for individual or family consumption and directs large quantity or bulk items to meal sites like the one at OUMC. As a result, less food is wasted, there is no unnecessary cost in the food chain and area residents receive nourishment. Left-over and unused foods from OUMC events are also incorporated into the monthly meal – further preventing food waste. For example, leftover chicken from a Men’s Club fundraiser was prepared and served in July and spare bratwursts from the annual church picnic were served in August. Desserts, jugs of milk and ice are regularly donated by the congregation and rebates from the SCRIP program allow for the purchase of any missing ingredients for the dinner.
Who Runs the Community Dinner? Volunteers! In the weeks prior to a meal, volunteers develop a menu based on food available at the Hunger Task Force warehouse and left-overs from church functions. Volunteers also complete any necessary cooking and baking in advance of the dinner. In the hours immediately before the meal, volunteers gather to prepare the Fellowship Hall for dinner guests, complete the final cooking/baking and assemble the fresh produce before serving. Many of the volunteers for the actual dinner are not from OUMC. For the past two summers, Target employees have donated their time and often organized part, if not all, of the meal. During the academic year, Onalaska National Honor Society students assist in the kitchen.
What Can I Do to Help? Volunteer! Opportunities to assist are available throughout the month. Please contact Amy Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 519-0765 to learn more. Invite a friend! OUMC’s Community Dinner offers guests an opportunity to connect, build relationships and enjoy a delicious meal at no cost. Anyone and everyone is invited to dinner from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.