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Community Meals in urgent need of help


Saturday, April 4

The Community Meal program—formerly known as the Soup Kitchen— at the Goldendale United Methodist Church has seen its role expand greatly since the “Stay at Home” edict began. The program has been distributing three times the meals it used to serve. Mara Lewis writes below about the challenges faced by the program, with resources severely limited, and makes an urgent plea for help.

At the Community Meal program here in Goldendale, we strive to have comforting, healthy meals cooked with love, three to four nights each and every week. The program here has always been a beautiful coming together of our community, and we are so very grateful.

During a time like this, when the fears and hardships of COVID-19 are impacting all of us on so many levels, it is hugely necessary to continue to provide this service for lower-income families in town. When you have children at home 24/7, and you just got laid off your job, it’s going to be a struggle to keep up on everything, and we are here to fill that gap in a small but real way. We have changed many aspects of our protocol to be able to remain open at this time, and we continue making changes to how we operate as we are instructed.

On a night during this time, you’ll drive up to the United Methodist Church basement and see glove-and-mask-clad volunteers through the double doors. Each guest specifies how many meals they need, and we put the white clamshell to-go containers in paper bags and hand them out the door.

We are sanitizing all of our surfaces when we arrive and when we leave. We are using proper Health Department cooking regulations as usual and are social distancing as much as possible while we cook, by greatly reducing the number of people in the kitchen at one time. Guests are also being models of proper social distancing; the governor would be proud.

When Gov. Inslee announced the shelter in place, we had been serving around 15 guests a night; now, three weeks in, we’re serving 50-plus.

The Community Meals would not be here without the most loyal, brilliant group of volunteers. This is a volunteer-run organization, made possible by sacrifice and love.

We do receive generous support from McDonalds and Holcomb’s that adds a great foundation for our meal planning—however, our volunteers still spend a lot of their own money to provide food each week.

With the increase of our meal volume, and no sign of that stopping, along with our desire to shop wisely and have well balanced meals, we are going to exceed our budget. At this rate, we won’t be able to keep serving meals. We would be so grateful if you—our town—would help us by giving monetary donations of any size. This way we can stay open during this difficult time.

One of the joys of living in a small town is that we are here for each other during the hard times and committed to being a team, to being a family.

Stay safe out there, and please keep the Community Meal Program in your prayers.

Checks can be written to Goldendale United Methodist Church and sent to P.O. Box 1033, Goldendale, WA. Please identify it as a gift to the Community Meals.

We serve meals on the second and fourth Mondays of every month, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every week. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m.


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