Friday, September 30, 2022

Area churches work together with food pantry to offer free monthly community meals

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Hill United Church of Christ (UCC), St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, and Faith Lutheran Church, in conjunction with the Windham Food Pantry will be sponsoring free monthly community dinners on the first Thursday of each month as a way to build strong community connections in the greater Windham area. The first dinner will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 at Windham Hill UCC, 140 Windham Center Road.

Three Windham-area churches are teaming up with the
Windham Food Pantry to host free monthly community dinners 
on the first Thursday of each month in Windham. The first 
dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday,
Oct. 6 at Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140
Windham Center Road, Windham. COURTESY PHOTO 
“Although Covid is not done with us yet, we have found a way to live with it,” Fr. Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s, said. “As a result, the Windham Area Clergy Association (WACA) has decided to resurrect the long-held and much-loved community meal that lasted for over 20 years but stalled due to the pandemic.”

Higgins was referring to the highly attended and popular Monday Meals program that was led by Food and Fellowship, Inc., a non-profit ecumenical organization made up of WACA church members. Before the pandemic and required social distancing, Monday Meals hosted between 50 to 70 guests per week. People came from all walks of life and included senior citizens and families with children from the towns of Windham, Gorham, Raymond, Buxton, Falmouth, Naples, Westbrook, Casco, Standish, and Limington, as well as other area communities.

“Unfortunately, the Food and Fellowship committee disbanded due to circumstances beyond their control, but we are going to bring back, in some capacity, the greatest part of the Monday meal program,” Higgins continued. “That is to gain what we have lost in the past three years; to get the community back together on a social level to help prevent social isolation. Social isolation, especially among the elderly, has plagued the nation long before the pandemic but has only increased since.”

Higgins said they want to get the word out to the older citizens in the area. “They are the most affected by social isolation, and the past Monday Meal program proved seniors enjoyed gathering with others due to their attendance.”

Sharon Rankin, Pastor of Windham Hill UCC, noted that the free monthly meal is open to everyone, and there is no specific requirement to attend.

“This is not just about economic need,” she said. “It is more about coming together as a community and eating together. It is about creating bonds. It is about making us stronger as a community.”

Rankin said that although each church “feeds” its members' spiritual needs, many people do not feel an attachment to a church but want to connect with others nonetheless.

“We are called to reach out and feed the hungry,” she said. “In this way, we live the love of Christ. It’s a way of connecting with our community. Providing a free meal is one way to join us together, to ‘be the hands and feet of Christ’ and to fill a need in a nontraditional way.”

The second monthly meal will be held on November 3 at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road. The next meal will be December 8 at Faith Lutheran, 988 Roosevelt Trail. The times for all meals are 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm. For more information about this Thursday’s meal or any other upcoming events, please reach out to Windham Hill UCC at (207) 892-4217, St. Ann’s at (207) 892-8447 or Faith Lutheran at (207) 892-9158.

“Anyone and everyone are invited to attend,” Higgins said. “We are very excited about this new energy and new possibility.” <

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