BY MARGARET GOSS
When Carmen Methodist minister John Bizzell began a food ministry about twelve years ago, he had no idea the program would serve thousands of meals through the years! The idea began as a way to serve sick and elderly individuals in the community who would benefit from a hot meal.
Restaurant owner Nettie Copenhaver had just retired from her business and volunteered to fry chickens for the weekly lunch. The meals were very popular and a delivery system began to take the meals throughout the community. The numbers grew and eventually they began purchasing the chicken and side dishes from a grocery store in Alva to keep up with demand.
At this time, over 50 dinners are delivered to families in the community. There are 5-6 workers who pick up the food, cook side dishes and desserts, and prepare the meal. There are drivers and delivery personnel who take the meals to families and elderly individuals in town. Several individuals pick up their dinners. The ministry is supported with donations each week.
One individual who has volunteered for many years said it brings him joy to help feed people and see their smiles. One meal recipient said their family looks forward to those meals and it provides a break from preparing dinner. Elderly who are shut-in enjoy seeing someone new and know someone is checking on them each week. Many times, the elderly may have enough food for two meals from the dinner.
When COVID hit the area, the meals were cancelled. The workers devised a plan with improved sanitation procedures, limited contact with the food, and closed the dining area at the church to any walk-ins. The program is back in operation and serves a number of families with children who look forward to a chicken dinner. One group of children call it “Chicken Tuesday”!
In small communities, there may be limited food programs for the food insecure. The workers bring a hot meal, smiles, and Christ’s love, one chicken dinner at a time!