Church feeding program receives $3,000 grant

Oct 10, 2018

Rockland — Loaves and Fishes, a community weekend hot lunch program hosted by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 11 Shite St., and staffed by volunteers from 11 community groups, has been awarded a $3,000 grant by the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

The grant supports programs that assist people living in poverty. With a poverty rate of 13.7 percent, Rockland is the ninth-poorest city in the state.

The funding will be used to purchase tables and chairs to replace those that have served the program since 2002, when St. Peter’s made major renovations with an eye toward more expansive outreach partnerships with the community.

Each year Loaves & Fishes serves 4,000 weekend meals worth a total of $10,000. A low annual budget of $1,500 covers basic kitchen supplies and equipment. Teams generally fund the meals they prepare and serve through donations from their organizations or members, additionally donating an estimated 1,800 hours of service throughout the year.

The mission of Loaves and Fishes is “To serve nutritious noon meals and provide a welcoming community center and secure place for weekly fellowship with others.” As one regular participant commented, “I look forward not just to a good meal, but for the chance to be with friends and ... the volunteers.”

Loaves & Fishes was started more than 25 years ago by members of the former Pratt Memorial Methodist Church and continued with sandwiches distributed from the back of a station wagon in St. Peter’s parking lot. Growing with growing local need, the program evolved into a community-wide partnership involving many churches, organizations and businesses that prepare and serve nutritious weekend meals. The program now also offers Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, attended by many in the community.

St. Peter’s supplies the host site and coordinates the church and community groups that provide volunteer teams and meals. Current teams hail from Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, Youthlinks, L.I.F.E. Ministry, Camden for Community, CHRHS Honor Society, Nativity Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockland. Rock City Coffee and the Atlantic Baking Co. regularly provide coffee and bread, and the staff of Primo’s Restaurant provides and serves a special meal each January.

Today St. Peter’s offers a central meeting locale and space for a number of self-help, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations providing services to improve community life. People or organizations interested in being part of St. Peter’s community commons are encouraged to contact the church office at 594-8191.

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