Morning News - Lisa Lete
Max Gray and Kathryn Sullenger clapped their hands and enjoyed the festive atmosphere at Jason Lee Memorial Church as the 4C Gospel Connection band played and community members streamed into the church to enjoy the last Community Dinner Table meal of the season. The last supper of chili and cornbread, sponsored by the Christ's Cowboy Country Church, tipped the number of meals served to over 31,500 since the ministry started five years ago.
BLACKFOOT â€” It has been nearly five years since some friends saw a need to help hungry people in the community and put together the Community Dinner Table.
On Tuesday, members of the Christ's Cowboy Country Church served the final Community Dinner Table of the 2012-2013 year. The first on Oct. 28, 2008, drew just 92 participants. There were well over 300 this time around.
"We've served 23 meals over each winter for the past five years," said Elizabeth Fields, one of the officers in the non-profit organization. That has totaled over 31,500 since that first one.
"We have a lot of people who want to be involved," Fields said of the weekly meals that run from the last week in October to the last week in March each year. "Sometimes we've had to turn (helpers) away."
Each week approximately 25 workers from 22 different faith-based groups in the community have gathered at Jason Lee Memorial United Methodist Church.
In addition to the meals and the company of friends and neighbors, CDT has offered a coat rack with items to be taken as needed, a kids corner and a small food pantry.
CDT also offers a community garden at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds during the growing season.
Each of the groups is responsible for its menu during its turn at serving the meal. Fields noted that agreed-upon guidelines have asked for a hot meal with at least four items.
"We couldn't operate without grant money and generous donations from the community," Fields said of the funding for the dinners and other activities.
"The obvious effects of Community Dinner Table is it has built bridges with the faith communities," Fields told members of the Bingham County Historical Society during their March meeting early in the month.