When times are tough, a freshly prepared, warm meal can be hard to come by, but the local organization offering the Last Friday Supper aims to provide a meal to those who are hungry on the final Friday of every month.
“I think it’s a very worthwhile program for people who need a good, hot meal,” said volunteer coordinator Susie Ernst, who has been with the program for three years. “We do it once a month and really enjoy it.”
The meal takes place at Grass Valley United Methodist Church at 236 South Church St. Today’s menu includes baked ham, Parmesan potatoes, string beans, rolls, along with red and green Jello for dessert.
The meals will be offered between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Gerry Gaynor, a volunteer who cooks the meals, said he anticipates about 50-65 people, though no one will be turned away.
“I always make sure there’s a pot of water on, so if anybody comes in and we ran out of food, I’ll make pasta and sauce so we’ll have food no matter what,” Gaynor said.
Around 15 people, including the Boy Scouts, typically help volunteer.
“We’ve got a great body of volunteers that are going to help us prepare and serve,” Gaynor said.
Tom and Thelma Stade started the program in 2001 as a way to help the hungry.
“We started out Last Friday Supper because people, we figured, at the end of the month their money was tight; so, we offered a free meal for the hungry,” Thelma Stade said. “We had no idea how it would work or how many would show up. We just cooked a meal and advertised it and it’s just grown from there.”
Gaynor and Ernst have since taken over the program.
“This is really a joint effort between Susie and myself,” Gaynor said.
The program used to offer meals twice a month, but because of financial constraints had to reduce the program one meal per month.
“Because of funds they had to cut back to having one,” Thelma Stade said. “We’ve been having trouble funding it. Just last year was probably the first time we stopped having it twice a month.”
Gaynor, who has been a part of Last Friday Supper for six years, said despite tough times, he is thankful the program has been able to survive.
“We’ve been hurting for money, but we’ve been blessed with some real good donations,” Gaynor said.
The money that is donated goes to the Last Friday Fund through the Grass Valley United Methodist Church. Those interested in volunteering, Ernst said, should leave a message for her with the church at (530) 272-1946.
“Donations should be sent to Grass Valley United Methodist Church and in the memo put ‘LFS’ to make sure funds go into our account,” Ernst said.
Gaynor said he values the ability to contribute to the community after retiring.
“I’m a pretty lucky guy,” Gaynor said. “I retired, moved up to this beautiful place, so it gives me a chance to give back.”
Visit www.LastFridaySupper.com for more information.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.