He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, Common English Bible
I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35, Common English Bible
Northside Presbyterian Church is into its sixth year of offering a free community supper every Monday evening. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been offering a drive-up service for people to pick up a meal. The meals have ranged from baked spaghetti to chicken taco soup to a variety of purchased foods such as sub sandwiches and pulled pork sliders. The meal also includes fruit (oranges, apples, or fruit cups) and a snack-pack of cookies for dessert. We suspended the in-person meals in March 2020 when our building was closed. In October 2020, we attempted to start the program again, but due to unforeseen circumstances we had to suspend this effort. We started 2021 giving out $5 gift cards to Wendy’s but in March shifted to giving out actual meals.
We work with local restaurants to obtain meals, but we typically fix the entrée ourselves with pre-packaged sides and desserts such as chips and Rice Krispy treats. The meals have included hot dogs, chili, chicken sandwiches, baked ziti, and lasagna. We occasionally offer subs from Jersey Mike’s and fried chicken from Kroger.
The initial target audience for guests was residents from the neighborhood around the church, but it has expanded to serve many beyond the neighborhood. We advertise on Northside’s Facebook page and several other Blacksburg-focused Facebook pages.
The program started on June 18, 2018, and has met every Monday since then, except for the interruption due to the pandemic. Average weekly distribution in 2022 was 46 meals, it is now up to an average of 60 meals per week in 2023. This mission has been funded from grants from Presbytery of the Peaks and donations from members of Northside. In 2022, we spent $8,258.00 to support the program, which works out to $3.46 per meal for the 2,390 meals we provided. At the start of the program, we targeted costs to about $3.00 per person per meal. We increased this to $5.00 per meal when we started again in the pandemic, and we have held close to that as an average.