During the once-a-month meals, church members bring in prepared meals and serve needy local residents at 5 p.m. The goal is to give them a safe and warm place to eat and possibly introduce them to church, she said. Church volunteers also play games and perform music with their guests, Terry said.
Kitty Blattner, a church member who is active in the program, said as many as 60 residents have been served. There are “no strings attached,” she said.
By inviting the community to the free meals, Terry said the church is “removing a barrier that was built” around the church.
After the success of Second Saturday, the church’s council members discussed ways to continue the momentum in the ministry. They pitched the idea of providing an around-the-clock food pantry, one that wouldn’t require much manpower.
Then Bill Maichle, a church member, built a Tiny Pantry out of wood and placed it near the church’s parking lot. The pantry is filled with items that were donated by church members, other downtown churches and local residents. Right now, most of the items are winter clothing, but once the weather turns warmer, it will be stocked with canned goods and garden vegetables.
“If you need it, take it,” said Sherry Swanson, a church and council member. “We know the word will spread.”
When the pantry is running low on items, it’s restocked, she said.
Terry said the church is considering other ways to “continue welcoming people into our doors and meeting their needs.”