Community Meals In Lakewood Carry On And Carry Out Through COVID 19.

St. James Catholic Church sponsors a community meal on the Second Wednesday of every month, in Andrews Hall, regardless of weather, or any other circumstances.

St. Luke Catholic Church sponsors a meal the third Wednesday of each month. St. Edward High School covers the fourth Wednesday of each month. Each has weathered the COVID storm providing fresh hot meals on a carry-out basis since the health crisis broke in March. Heavy rains and bitter cold did not stop our volunteers from serving the community in its time of need.

These three institutions each prepare and serve over 100 hot meals per month. They are committed to providing a healthy meal including salad, vegetables, a fresh main dish, drink and dessert in a dignified setting with live music. They are committed to providing fellowship and engaging in good conversation while getting to know the people. Provisions beyond a good meal include wool socks, hats and gloves and providing information regarding free clothing and health screening.

Volunteers come from all over including various churches, local Catholic and Public Schools and other neighbors from Lakewood. They are one community serving another and working in conjunction with the Lakewood Community Service Organization. Each meal costs about $400 per month.

Throughout the Covid Crisis volunteers have staffed the carry-out lines and others have cooked in their homes. Families have donated entire meals and local businesses have also been generous. In April, The Proper Pig supplied the entire meal for St Luke!

We hope July will be our final carry-out meal. We are planning on going back indoors in August. Much will change. We have been examining the health regulations and best practices to insure that our patrons and our workers are protected at all times. We will no longer be opening the halls up at 4:00 p.m.; we will allow our cooks and set-up workers to do their jobs and then exit before the crowd arrives. We will no longer be serving buffet style, each patron will be served at their table. We will limit the number of people at each table and require masks be worn when not eating. All of our volunteers will wear masks and gloves. Many more changes are afoot but the result will be a Community EVENT that will provide not only a great meal, but also the comradery and friendship we have all enjoyed these many years.

Prior to the COVID outbreak there were 327,690 Northeast Ohioans who were food insecure, meaning they didn’t always know where they would find their next meal. Of those:
28% were children under 18 years old
16% were elderly
23% of households have at least one member in poor health
64% had to choose between paying for food or utilities
78% of households purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food

There are many families faced with difficult challenges every month. We open our doors to everyone and have continued our mission of serving others.
Each of these Wednesday meals are staffed by volunteers and are financially self-sufficient. Mickey Krivosh at ATC has thrown us some great fundraisers over the years. Lakewood businesses and the Lakewood Firefighters in particular have provided generous support. The COVID Measures we are putting in place are expected to add to the cost of the program. If you are able, donations will be accepted at each Meal.

Additionally, many of our volunteers are elderly and the very people COVID is striking the hardest. If you can join us as a volunteer at this critical time your help will be greatly appreciated. Please contact St. James, St. Luke or St. Edward and offer your support this fall. We are committed to carrying on these needed services but need your help.

Cornelius J. (Corky) O'Sullivan is the director of the Flock Community Meals at St. James and St. Luke. He is a civil trial attorney with Weston Hurd in Cleveland.

Cornelius O'Sullivan

Lakewood resident, community meal organizer

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Volume 16, Issue 14, Posted 4:19 PM, 07.15.2020