A community lunch

by guest blogger Susan Sprague Yeske

Forget that old saw about there being no such thing as a free lunch.

Each Wednesday at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lambertville, NJ, more than 100 people dine on a lunch provided by the church for anyone who wants to come.

Community lunch at CUMC; photo by C. Yeske
Mike Gehrig, center, works at the Wednesday lunches.

The lunch is free, although some folks leave a voluntary donation.

The food comes from a variety of sources; service groups like the Kiwanis, Girl Scouts and Rotary take turns, as well as some local churches, and the Homestead Market in Lambertville provides lunch at least once each month. Centenary volunteers fill in all the gaps.

A recent lunch was hosted by Lewis Fisheries, whose family members currently can be seen in boats on the Delaware River, pulling in seasonal shad. (No shad was served at the lunch. You have to wait for Shad Fest for that.)

The lunch was the brainchild of Pastor Judith Gehrig, known to her parishioners as Pastor Judy. From the outset, she didn’t want it to be a lunch just for those in need.

“We had hoped it would be a very diverse turnout,” she said. “Our vision was always a community lunch where everyone could come.”

Launched more than a year ago, the lunch has become a draw for local as well as those from New Hope. Teachers, library workers, businesspeople and senior citizens all show up to check out the week’s display of food. There are always at least two kinds of soup, sandwich fixings, fruit salad, green salad, cookies and desserts, and steamer trays of hot entrees such as baked salmon, pasta, lasagna, sausage with peppers and onions, or chicken and rice.

The food isn’t fancy, but it’s hearty and filling.

After more than a year, with thousands of lunches served, there is no doubt the community lunch is a great success. “It really has worked out beyond our expectations,” said Pastor Judy.

Community Kitchen at
108 N. Union St., Lambertville, NJ
Hours: Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free or voluntary donation

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