Meeting Needs & Making Connections
Writer / Amanda Ennis
Photographer / James Eichelman
“Open to anyone, no charge, no strings attached.” These are the words Greenwood Christian Church uses to describe their weekly community meal. This free meal, offered in the café area of the church every Monday evening from 5 – 7 p.m., is for any person in need of a meal, regardless of age or socio-economic status.
Located at 2045 Averitt Road in Greenwood, this weekly meal served 40 meals when it began in June 2013. It has grown significantly and currently serves approximately 160 meals on an average Monday evening. Meals are also available to go.
GCC’s community meal is part of a larger community-wide effort that aims to provide a warm meal to Johnson County residents every day of the week. Multiple local churches have teamed together to meet this need. The churches share menus to assure they serve a different meal each day. Participating churches have created a master community meal calendar that gives menu and location information for where a free meal can be found in Johnson County on any given weekday.
We can do more together!
Kent Patterson, Minister of Outreach for Greenwood Christian Church, describes the genesis of this program: “We (GCC) were looking for opportunities to connect with the community, and we knew there was a need for meals in this area. We just didn’t know the best way to do it. We try to do a lot of cooperative work with other ministries and agencies because we know we can do more together than we can on our own. We visited a few places, talked with people doing this type of outreach, and learned it was definitely possible for us to help serve our community in this way, too.”
Patterson shares that, in the beginning, the church wondered if they would consistently have the steady stream of volunteers necessary to make the meal happen each week. In reality, since the meal’s beginning, there has never been a volunteer shortage. “This is something people like to be a part of. Generally, 10-15 people come and help on Mondays, and we’re usually booked a couple months ahead in terms of volunteers,” says Patterson. Volunteer tasks include helping to prepare and serve the meal, washing dishes, or meal clean-up. While the meal’s volunteer pool includes many Greenwood Christian Church members, many non-GCC individuals serve, too. This includes individuals from the community and other local churches.
Local Boy and Girl Scouts have volunteered their time, as well. Any person or group, young or old, interested in helping is welcome. Patterson says this approach fits into the church’s larger purpose for providing the meal: “This isn’t just ours (GCC) to do. It’s a way we can help others spread Jesus’ love. We don’t desire to make it something that is just ours.” Those interested in volunteering can call the church office at 317-881-9336, extension 361.
“I get to do this!”
You can find GCC member and chief chef Vicki Stafford in the kitchen at GCC each Monday afternoon by 3 p.m., hours before they serve the first meal. Sometimes without the help of another, but always with a joyful heart, Stafford begins the process of preparing a meal that will feed, on average, 160 people. Long before Monday, however, she plans behind the scenes, deciding on menus and buying meal ingredients.
While most would consider this task overwhelming, Stafford sees it differently. “It’s kind of hard because most people work during the day. I am lucky that I am retired and I get to do this!” shares Vicki, who also says that when it comes to serving in this way each week, she’s been “led on this path by God.” Stafford has volunteered her time since that very first Monday night a year ago when the program began.
Currently, there is no meal scheduled on the Johnson County Community Meal Calendar for Wednesdays. Any church interested in hosting a meal on Wednesdays can contact Greenwood Christian Church at 317-881-9336 for more information.
Patterson shares this final thought: “There isn’t any way we could feed people every night of the week. We just don’t have the budget to make that happen. But, if we all do a little bit, then we can help a lot more people.”
—– Johnson County Community Meal Schedule —–
Greenwood Christian Church
2045 Averitt Road
5 – 7 p.m.
Greenwood United Methodist Church
525 N. Madison Ave.
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Turning Point Church
3600 N. Morton St., Franklin
5 – 7 p.m.
No Meal Currently Scheduled
Under the Sun Café
250 N US 31, Whiteland
5 – 7 p.m.
Franklin Grace United Methodist Church
1300 E Adams Dr., Franklin
5 – 7 p.m.
Third SATURDAY of each month—Greenwood 1st Baptist (8 – 10 a.m.) 99 W Main St. 317-881-3064
The monthly menu is located on Under the Sun Café’s Facebook page.