Pastor Lon Tobin sent my boss, Tim, this photo a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more! Here’s the response I received from Mike Pugh:
I am the lay leader at St. Paul United Methodist Church and also the food security coordinator for Hope, Inc., which is a non-profit organization here in Wytheville, Virginia. I supervise the café.
In your note to Lon, you mention you love food ministries and that is exactly what we are. We are a “donate what you can” types concept café where in simple terms, “Everyone eats free.” Our purpose is to feed the hungry and provide a safe and exciting atmosphere for those that can and those that can’t to enjoy a healthy meal and be a part of an atmosphere of sharing the theme that we are all the same no matter our financial situation. All we ask at the end of the meal is one question, “What would you like to donate today?” If you can help to pay forward for someone, great and if you can’t pay at all, still great and please come back tomorrow.
The reason St. Paul is so important is that we run the café almost entirely on volunteers and many of those are St. Paul members including Lon who washes dishes every single Friday.
It would be wonderful to have you visit and see what we do for our community. It is truly mission for our church and community as well. To answer one of your questions, yes it is supported by other churches and groups also but the heart of it is truly with St. Paul with its support.
Update: Here’s our April 30, 2020 story!
Wytheville cafe provides hot meals for hungry families, despite pandemic hurdles
Photo: Andy Kegley, Pastor Lon Tobin, and Mike Pugh show off a grant check supporting Hope, Inc., from the Holston Conference Foundation.