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Community Table Ministries continuing to feed hungry people, despite virus

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A community luncheon held last fall in Strong. While the meals have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, Community Table Ministries prepares boxes of food for people in the community.
Volunteers, left to right, include Lorraine Mitchell, Debra Howard and Mike Senecal.

STRONG – A popular lunch program operating out of the Strong and Madison communities is continuing to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in a different form. Recently, the nonprofit that hosts the meals was awarded funds through the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation.

Community Table Ministries’ director is Mike Senecal, who started the luncheon program at the Quaker Hill Christian Church in Unity a few years before opening the Strong version in 2010. The meals feature homemade food cooked in the kitchen of the Forster Memorial Building by roughly 15 volunteers; soups, sides, desserts and main dishes are offered to anyone who shows up, regardless where they live. Senecal estimated that between 100 and 125 people normally attend the Strong meals. In addition to the meal, the nonprofit offers food and other essential items that visitors can take home with them.

Community Table Ministries is also operating another site in Madison at the Malachi House Ministries. That location, unlike the Strong site, is now operating with approximately 10 volunteers, drawing 150 to 170 people from across four counties. Food is prepared in the kitchen and then brought directly to people in their vehicles, Senecal said. The Madison site is open to everyone on Friday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Due to the pandemic and its associated restrictions, Strong’s location is currently closed as its kitchen is inaccessible. Community Table Ministries has been offering boxes of food instead, distributing roughly 20 to 25 of them a month in Strong. Senecal said that recipients may draw upon the food as a resource during tough times – such as assisting a family with three children after a fire – or provide a little extra food at the end of the month, when money might be tighter. People who need access to a box of food can contact Senecal at 491-5080.

Senecal said that organizers do intend to continue holding the community meals in the Forster Memorial Building once the building and its kitchen become available.

The meals are funded through donations as well as some grant support. Community Table Ministries recently was awarded funding through the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation to support its operations. It’s the fourth grant of its kind the nonprofit has received in 10 years.

“We were blessed with a good donation,” Senecal said.

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