LEWISBURG — The Neighbor Night Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lewisburg will celebrate its 30,000 plate served on Wednesday, July 1 with a community barbecue from 5-7 p.m.
In celebration of the 30,000th plate served, Cargill of Lewisburg donated $1,000 through the Cargill Cares Committee. The money will go to the BBQ cookout where a group of Cargill employees will cook for the community dinner.
The dinner will consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad and chips. Several other entities like the Boy Scouts, Delta Theta Tau Sorority and other local churches will help provide desert. The dinner will be free and open to anyone in the community from 5-7 p.m.
There will also be games, clowns and lot of old fashioned fellowship during the dinner according to Lalah Kline, a member of the church.
Since March of 2009, Trinity Lutheran Church has been serving a free meal to anyone in the community. According to Kline who helped originally organize Neighbor Night at the church, the meal started after Hurricane Ike came through the area, knocking out power to the majority of residences.
Kline explained that since the church did not lose power a couple of people at the church decided they could cook and provide meals to those who did not have power at their home. Food came in from people within the community whose food would expire during the power outage if not used and meals began being served.
Kline said Neighbor Night Ministry really took off after Ike went through and people in the church began asking how they could help the community during the economic downturn.
“When the economic downturn began to take its toll, some in the congregation began to ask what they could do to serve those in the community who were being affected,” she said. “The idea of serving a free meal each week was introduced at a Mutual Ministry meeting and within an hour a new ministry was born without benefit of a planning committee, a budget or a real plan.”
Since then the church has served a free meal every Wednesday night from 5-6:30 p.m., and Kline expects to hit the 30,000th meal served mark either during the BBQ or in the weeks leading up to the BBQ.
Kline continued by saying that church has averaged around 100 people served since the meals began six years ago. “Some families who initially came in are still coming and it is fun to see how the children have grown and changed. We seem to have new faces every week, and while it started to help those struggling economically, the meal quickly turned into a real community affair for anyone who wants to come for whatever the reason may be,” she said.
Kline also said, over the course of the six years the church has served travelers in need, one man was on his way to West Virginia when car trouble stranded him in Lewisburg — but he was able to find a hot meal at the church. Another family traveling home to Texas was able to enjoy the dinner and take food for the road.
Steve Hawley, a member of the Cargill Cares Committee, said giving to the Trinity Luther Church was an obvious choice for him as someone who was born and raised in Lewisburg and was proud that he is now in a situation he can give back to the community he grew up in.
Hawley, who will be doing the barbecuing for the dinner said the mission of the Cargill Cares Committee is quite simple, “Cargill is committed to community enrichment where they have facilities located and where employees live.”
The Neighbor Night Ministry also has a food bank open and available on Wednesday nights for those in the community in need. Kline said both the dinner and food bank are completely dependent on donations for supplies, and time of the people who volunteer for the free dinners.
Trinity Lutheran Church is located at 511 N Commerce St, Lewisburg, right across the street from Tri-County North High School.