Members of Marcellus Rotary volunteered to provide a free "Loaves & Fishes" community dinner Oct. 25 at St. John’s Episcopal Church. From left to right: Paulette Quinn, Bob Shields, Helen Shaffer, Debbie Glisson, Phyllis Danks, Anita Diefes and Joe DeCapio.
Marcellus “Anybody is welcome, there are no requirements, we think of it as a ‘community fellowship dinner,’” said Sarah Cox of the Loaves & Fishes Dinner put on by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marcellus.
The dinners were originally hosted once-a-month by St. John’s, but the church has since invited other service groups to assist in the effort.
The next free Loaves & Fishes Dinner is Tuesday, Dec. 27, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at St. John’s Church on Maple Street.
There is always a need for extra volunteers to help put on the dinner, and the members of the Marcellus Rotary pitched in to provide the free Loaves & Fishes Dinner on October 25. About 100 community members were able to share a hot meal thanks to the Rotary Club’s efforts.
Cox has been working the dinners since they began in Marcellus in April 2009. The idea was sparked after a few parish members took a trip to Seneca Falls and discovered a free dinner was offered weekly for members of the community. St. John’s members wondered if they could help their own community.
“I contacted a church in New Jersey and they were so helpful, they gave examples, ideas, tips, menus and that is how we were able to get started,” Cox said.
Letters were sent to area grocery stores asking for donations, and the stores’ managers gave their support.
Cox said the dinner used to have a menu, but now the menu changes based on what is donated by stores for each meal.
Dinners are not limited to serving fish, as the title of the event might suggest. ‘Loaves and Fishes’ references the Biblical story of when Jesus Christ fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. The main dish can sometimes be a surprise, but there is always a well-balanced meal complete with dessert the night of the dinner.
“There is a huge group of people who all pitch in, and we always make sure to have a well-balanced meal,” Cox said.
The dinner has never fed less than 80 people, and Cox laughed about one hectic night when 150 people showed up. But Cox made it clear that all are welcome.
“We want our guests to feel welcomed and relaxed,” she said.
Extra hands for cooking, prep work, serving food and cleanup are always welcome. To get involved, call Cox at 673-0833.
Laura Stabbert is a freelance reporter for the Eagle Observer.