The hot meal is courtesy of a once-a-month program called “The Table” offered through First United Methodist Church.
The program, which kicked off its fourth month in August, has more than doubled in size since the inception in on May 19. The first hot meal was served over “Change the World” weekend, an annual weekend of addressing a community need supported through the Methodist denomination.
“We realized here in Beeville there was a great need not being met,” Pastor Larry McRorey said. “We’ve seen a significant increase with basic needs, and food is one of those needs.”
Food is distributed through several organizations in Beeville, including other churches and The Vineyard, but Beeville lacked a hot meal being served for free until The Table came along.
The Table is paid for every month by the members of the congregation. McRorey said there is a separate offering taken up on Sundays to support missions of the church, The Table being one of those missions.
Members not only give money but also volunteer their time to make the monthly event happen.
One such volunteer is 10-year congregation member Jan Kern.
Kern was in charge of coordinating and preparing the August meal. The head cook duties are rotated to a different volunteer every month.
Kern, along with a small army of other volunteers, took two days to make the meal and prepare the space.
“When you are doing the work for the Lord, it shouldn’t be a chore; it should be a pleasure,” Kern said.
She said they started on Friday by making the 14 casseroles and then baked them on Saturday morning, along with making the fruit cups and salad, setting all tables and serving the hungry who came through the doors.
The crowd starts lining about a little before 11 a.m. to get the meal, because, even though it is free, it is still on a first come, first served basis.
At 11 o’clock, everyone joins hands, prays and asks for blessing on their food, and then it is time to eat.
Smiling faces hand the guests plates of food and ask, “What kind of dressing would you like with your salad?”
Guests make their way to tables and start eating.
“I invite folks (members of the congregation) to sit down at the tables and not just feed people but sit down and fellowship with them,” McRorey said.
When asked what he thought about his congregation’s response to The Table, McRorey’s elated response was, “I think this is awesome. This is a very generous church.”
While McRorey does not have a goal of expanding his congregation, he does hope to make people aware of the church and the ministries it has to offer.
“If we are not just going to survive but thrive, we need to engage the community,” he said.
The Table is open to anyone, and meals are served to people of all socioeconomic levels, but he said he has seen a pattern of lower income families and people on fixed incomes.
“There are no strings attached; come have a meal and enjoy each other’s company,” McRorey said.
Cherie Woolever comes for the people.
“I meet new people and I see friends,” she said. “They go out of their way to make you feel at home and help you.”
Woolever, a 64-year-old, is in a wheelchair and typically has a caretaker living with her but is currently in between providers, so the friends and hot food are greatly appreciated. She said she has never had a bad meal at the church.
“I think it’s a total blessing every time you come, and they are doing the community good,” she said. “Another thing, there is always someone willing to pray for you.”
At September’s Table, more than 100 people enjoyed the food, door prizes and fellowship last Saturday during the Diez y Seis festivities. Special plans are being made for the upcoming meals, including a Fall Festival in October (Saturday during Western Week), Thanksgiving meal in November and the annual Community Christmas Dinner in December, which will be dine-in only this year.
Christina Rowland is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 119, or at regional@mySouTex.com.