Meals open door to the community

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Meals open door to the community


Becky Walz
News Editor


No age, religion, gender, or community limits are set – everybody’s welcome to enjoy the free community meal at Calmar Lutheran Church in Calmar the fourth Thursday of every month, including from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.

“The meals are important just for the sake of having community,” noted Calmar Lutheran Pastor Phil Olson. “I think we are meeting a need to deal with literal hunger, especially later in the month when it is typically the tightest for the people who are food-insecure. We are also meeting a need for people who are hungry emotionally.”

The idea of a hosting a community meal on a regular basis originated as an extension of the meal that has been taking place at First Lutheran in Decorah since 2011.

“The one at First Lutheran is held the first Thursday every month and dovetails with the free health clinic that also takes place that night,” explained Olson.

In spring 2013, community members from Ossian and Calmar began the groundwork of bridging the gap with a community meal as well.

“It was that fact that some of us here in Calmar knew about what was going on in Decorah that led us to question if something similar would be beneficial in Calmar,” said Olson.

He added that a steering committee formed in the spring and paid a visit to several meals and asked for assistance from the Decorah committee to get such a meal organized in Calmar.

Meeting in June with the First Lutheran organizers, those in and around Calmar agreed that it was something that could and should be done close to home.

Jumping in feet first, the first community meal was held Thursday, Aug. 22, with 120 people in attendance.

“We wanted to get started, but we didn’t know how many people to expect. Would it be 40 people or 200 people?” said Olson. “We ended up preparing 100 meals, but served spaghetti as the main course, and we were able to prepare the additional meals with ease.”

He noted that the Barilla Company located in Ames provided the noodles and sauce free of charge, and the circles of Calmar Lutheran provided the salads and desserts, while members of the steering committee served the meal and cleaned up following the event.

“We are hoping to pull together as many different partners as possible to offer the meal to young and old to make this work,” commented Olson.

The food for Thursday’s meal is being provided by Farmers Union Co-op and prepared by U2 BBQ and Catering. Beta Sigma Phi is sponsoring the event.

Now that the group has gotten through its first meal, it has begun visiting with other organizations and businesses about the possibility of providing the main course and sponsoring the monthly meal.

Any businesses or organizations interested in helping to provide the meal entree monthly or sponsor the community meal may contact the Calmar Lutheran Church office at (563) 562-3633.

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