Trying to feed people in a world changed by coronavirus

A lot of good people want to help others during the pandemic, but the question is … How do you do that without spreading the virus?

Several United Methodist groups have found what they hope are temporary, safe solutions for getting meals to people who need it.

At Kingston United Methodist Church, a group of servants transformed their free monthly community lunch into a free weekly bagged lunch, available for pick-up in the church parking lot.

On Wednesday, April 1, four members of the “KUMC Cooking Crew” gave out 124 lunches including a sandwich choice (ham, turkey, pimento cheese or PBJ), chips, cookies, a banana and bottled water.

“Our goal has been to provide a good meal for anyone in the community who wants a good meal,” says Sharon Price.

The free monthly lunch started after Kingston UMC, which overlooks Watts Barr Lake, experienced a devastating fire in 2011.

“We had some debt that insurance did not cover,” Sharon says. “We began offering lunch after church on the last Sunday of the month, with all donations going to help pay off the debt. The first year we were able to decrease the debt by $8,000.”

The monthly dinners for the church continued, with donations going toward two more monthly meals:

  • The free community lunch was offered on the third Wednesday of the month.
  • On the second Tuesday of every month, the “Angel Food Ministry” provided a home-cooked meal to shut-ins or those dealing with sickness, death in the family, or “any type of need.”

The free community lunch, attended by 50 to 100 people, is typically a “hearty but not complicated” meal – such as soup and salad bar, Sharon says. But when the coronavirus shut down churches and restaurants, the monthly lunch was impossible.

So a couple of weeks ago, the 12 regular members of the Cooking Crew made a new plan. They sent only three or four crew members to the church kitchen to make bagged lunches, sanitizing the working spaces, washing their hands frequently, and keeping their distances among themselves.

When distributing the lunches, the volunteers wore gloves, asked participants not to get out of their cars, and handed bags through car windows while keeping “as much distance as possible.”

“We are very proud that we can serve our town’s emergency personnel, and we don’t turn anyone away,” says Sharon. Also fed are people who have lost their jobs or who have children home from school.

However, she’s not sure the crew will be able to continue the drive-through mission, given the requirements for people to stay in their homes to help stop the spread of the virus.

“We don’t think things are going to be the same for a long time,” she said.

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