St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cedar Falls
Monthly Community Meals
Every third Sunday, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church serves dinner to anyone who is hungry or alone for whatever reason. Co-chairs Diane Lyman and Sharon Kelleher organize about 30 volunteers to cook, decorate and set tables, greet guests, package bags of staple items, bake desserts, and wash dishes.
“The meals, which began a little over two years ago, started because we knew that there was hunger in the community. We also knew that people needed companionship,” says Lyman. She was inspired by a sermon at church to become involved. “I just felt challenged to get out there and serve others. This is a way to use one of my gifts, hospitality, cooking and entertaining guests.” Other volunteers feel the same way.
Dinner guests come from all over Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and surrounding communities. We serve families with children, all the way up to seniors,” Lyman says. “And we get singles who come regularly.” Relationships have developed; regular diners coordinate transportation to the meals among themselves and look out for each other. In addition, a number of guests are on the parish prayer list.
Guests arrive early and stay late. “Some people sit around the table and talk long after they’ve finished their meal,” offers co-chair Kelleher. “They’re getting more than food. People are developing friendships and community here.”
Guests are greeted at the door and asked to find a table at which they would like to dine. The night’s menu is explained and each diner’s meal is brought to him or her rather than asking people to go through a serving line. Dinner is always served on porcelain dinner plates with real utensils, in an effort to make the meal more home-like and to keep with the church’s ecological efforts.
Most of the food served and that goes into the take-home pantry bags is purchased through the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, of which St. Luke’s is a partnering member. Some vegetables come from the church’s expanding community garden. In addition to serving dinner at the church, St. Luke’s hosts a meal at the Catholic Worker House in Waterloo on the third Monday of each month. “We cook once and serve twice,” says Sue Fread, coordinator of CWH ministry at St. Luke’s.
Special thanks to Bill Witt for many of these photos!