Montague church that gave out meals after Fiona decides to keep on cooking | CBC News

A free meal that started as a way of providing comfort in the aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona has now become a monthly habit in Montague, P.E.I.

Hillcrest United Church started giving out meals to people who were without electricity for days and in some cases weeks after the September storm. Now, the congregation in eastern P.E.I. is offering up at least two pots of hot soup and some sandwiches on the last Thursday of every month. 

Sandra MacDonald, who was organizing the post-Fiona meals, said the idea to continue serving lunches after everyone’s power was restored came up during a women’s group meeting.

As she recalls it, somebody said: “Wouldn’t be nice to have a gathering spot for people who want to spend time with each other, and also anybody who’s struggling a little with the groceries?”

Volunteers with the church serve at least two types of soup and about four types of sandwiches during the lunches. (Tony Davis/CBC)

MacDonald acknowledged: “Once a month is not huge … but if it makes a bit of a difference, that’s fine.”

Meals are served at around lunch time on the designated day. Organizers said they’re getting about 50 or 60 people each time, though they saw only about 20 on Thursday due to the bad weather.

Some lunchers are seniors who want to get out more, they said. Many stick around for a couple of games of crokinole.

“We hope people will come out because they’d like to have a meal or because they’re lonely and they want to visit with some friends and play some games,” said Melissa Mullen, a volunteer.

A woman in glasses wearing an apron and a red bandana smiles. A table with a spread of sandwich trays can be seen in the background.
Melissa Mullen is one of the volunteers who’s helping serve the free lunches. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“It just feels like a really good thing to do.”

“There’s a great need in the community, with the cost of food,” said Timothy Wisnicki, a student minister serving at the church.

“But it’s also just a wonderful relationship-building experience at [this] time of the year in particular, especially after a pandemic when we’re all feeling lonely or isolated.”

A man smiles. People sitting on tables can be seen in the background.
Timothy Wisnicki, a student minister with the church, said the rising cost of food has led to ‘a great need in the community.’ (Tony Davis/CBC)

The next free meal is set for Feb. 23. Organizers said they plan to keep hosting them for a long time to come.

“We hope the people who come will enjoy it and feel nourished in several ways,” MacDonald said. “They’ll feel like they’ve had a nice meal and had good company with them.”

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