Faith and food: Service on Saturdays (SOS)
St. Michael’s is a parish that loves to break bread together, so it should be no surprise that one of our oldest ministries revolves around food.
Service On Saturdays (SOS) traces its roots back to 2008 when a group of parishioners sought to address food insecurity in our community. Indeed, statistics show that more than 12% of residents in northern Indiana (including 17.5% of children) don’t know where or when their next meal will be.
Initially the SOS team began serving a free luncheon on the third Saturday of each month. In 2014 they worked with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to become a registered soup kitchen, which enables us to obtain supplies from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana for the luncheon and expand the program by giving out food bags. Guests are welcome to attend the luncheon, pick-up a food bag or both.
The food bags contain staples such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, beans and canned goods. Fresh meat and fruit is also included when available. Each bag is designed to provide two or three full meals.
SOS chefs are challenged by what is available from the food bank — and also to come up with recipes that can accommodate large crowds (more than 100 guests at times). Yet each month they leverage their culinary creativity to produce savory entrees ranging from beef stroganoff and spaghetti to roasted pork loins and oven-baked stir-fries. During summer months, our St. Michael’s Family Garden provides fresh vegetables and lettuce for side dishes and salads.
Although nutritional assistance and financial support was the initial goal, SOS also provides important social connections. Guests are welcome to arrive as early as 10 a.m. to enjoy coffee and desserts before the serving line opens at 11 a.m. Each guest also receives a raffle ticket, and any extra food bags are given away after the meal.
SOS receives no support from the parish budget, but rather is funded entirely through a variety of grants. We are grateful for the support of the Episcopal Northern Indiana, Walmart and K-mart.
If interested in helping with SOS, please contact Dr. Sandra Stackhouse at email@example.com. The committee meets monthly on Sunday after worship service to discuss menus and any issues that need attention. Volunteers with strong backs are especially appreciated to help with packing food bags (9:30 a.m. on Wednesday) and procuring supplies from the food bank (8 a.m. on Friday) the week when SOS is held.