By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — The Emmaus Soup Kitchen is closing next month, but people in need will be given free bag lunches three days a week as an alternative.
Lifeway Community Church in North Bangor and Centenary United Methodist Church in Malone have teamed up to offer Life-Cent Lunches from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning Jan. 7.
Rather than having a hot, sit-down meal once a week, those needing a meal will go to the Methodist Church at the corner of Main and Brewster streets to collect their lunches.
‘EVEN MORE HELP’
The Rev. Joe Selenski of Lifeway and the Rev. Billy Bond of the Methodist Church met several months ago to talk about finding a way to expand food distribution to the area’s hungry.
“Billy said he wanted to start offering a different food opportunity, and we’re always looking to jump into an effort to help those in need,” Selenski said.
Bond said his church had provided a site for the Soup Kitchen for more than 20 years, but he was determined to give the community even more help.
“It’s more life sustaining,” he said of the revamped program.
NO QUESTIONS ASKED
He stressed that the Soup Kitchen provided an invaluable service to hungry individuals and families, “but you can live on three bagged lunches for a longer period of time.”
With the church no longer operating a program that relies on government assistance, Bond said, it can help those who need additional support.
“We’ll be able to open up our ministry,” he said. “With the Soup Kitchen, we can give them a meal if they are hungry, but what if they need spiritual food? That couldn’t happen before.
“But now we can counsel these people and pray with them and meet all of their needs,” he said.
Bond said the new format might also lessen the stigma some people continue to attach to free meals.
“There are some who don’t have food and do need it, but I’ve had people tell me they won’t go to the Soup Kitchen because they don’t want to be seen sitting in a roomful of people,” Bond said.
“This will help because people are in and out of here all day, so no one will know what you’re here for,” he said. “There are no questions asked. If you need a meal and you come in, you’ll get a lunch.”
The bag lunch will likely contain a sandwich, beverage, fruit and dessert.
Each church is spending its own mission money to provide the bagged meals, and Bond said an anonymous corporate donor is supporting the project, as well.
Forging the partnership with Lifeway Church is a bonus, Bond said.
“We really appreciate that Joe will be part of this because nobody has done more to help the poor in Franklin County than Joe Selenski.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org