TUPELO • Three churches and a group of passionate cooks will come together this summer to provide monthly community dinners that will not only nourish, but also educate those in need.
All three “Summer Supper Social” dinners will be held at 5 p.m. in the parish hall at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Jefferson Street in downtown Tupelo.
All Saints’ will cover the cost of the first meal on June 25. The second one, July 30, is funded by St. Luke United Methodist Church and the third one, on Aug. 27, is provided by The Orchard.
“The Salvation Army is soon to start renovation of its gym and kitchen area, so instead of people going there to eat, they’ll go to All Saints’ instead,” said Hannah Maharrey, director of Mississippi Balance of State Continuum of Care, which is a 71-county statewide homeless coalition. “We will likely have between 100 and 125 guests. We’re planning to cook for 150 and serve until the food runs out.”
Maharrey said the idea for the summer socials came from Brent Williams, who has put together a gleaning program through the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition.
“The gleaning program focuses on fresh produce, where we try to find avenues for small farmers and backyard farmers to have an outlet to donate food they can’t sell,” Maharrey said. “We find people who can use it. It’s also a landfill diversion.”
The summer meals will all involve fresh, seasonal produce along with items typically found in food boxes handed out by food pantries.
“The first meal will be a chicken enchilada bake – which can be made with fresh or canned chicken – and roasted zucchini and squash, and some type of fruit dessert, maybe even canned fruit since that’s typically in a food box,” Maharrey said.
Maharrey reached out to Lauren McElwain with the Cooking as a First Language group and those members will help prepare and serve the meal, which is free to participants.
“Sally Kate Collins, a nutritionist, and a few interns from Ole Miss will be creating the menus and shopping lists and recipes for people to take home,” Maharrey said. “The goal is for the participants to be able to recreate an affordable, accessible meal at home for little cost.”
Maharrey has also invited representatives from the Family Resource Center and Lifecore to set up tables so people can see the different types of educational programs they offer.
“I’m also trying to find someone who can come and give legal advice,” she said. “We don’t want this to be just a meal. We also want them to get some practical advice out of it, too.”
Volunteers who want to help on one of the social nights, or those wishing to make a monetary donation, can call (662) 842-4386 or email email@example.com.
“We can always use people to help set up or clean up or just come talk and visit and have a cup of coffee with the guests,” Maharrey said. “This is just one way we can make a difference for the homeless and the food insecure – our vulnerable population.”