Noon Lunch: A Community Shows It Cares

Noon Lunch at Trinity

Curtis Handy carries his lunch tray towards where he plans to sit and eat during Noon Lunch at Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.

By Mike Tripp / The News Leader

 “I think it’s a very important service to our community.”
                                               ~ Kathy Schneiderman, program co-coordinator

Janet Wood, aka. "Queen," shares a laugh with one of the volunteers as she carries a lunch for her brother during Noon Lunch at Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.

Janet Wood, aka. “Queen,” shares a laugh with one of the volunteers as she carries a lunch for her brother.

“It began with a sandwich, sometime in the 1970s.”

Co-coordinator of the program, Carter Hannah was talking about how the Noon Lunch program got its start once upon a time at Staunton’s Trinity Episcopal Church.

“A very cold person came into the building, met with the church secretary … and told her he was hungry,” she continues.

“She shared her sandwich with him, and I guess that led her to talk with other people and … they just started.”

When the program began in 1970s, Trinity was the only church involved.

In those early days, it likewise had no connections with other organizations.

But over the years, things changed with the program becoming a larger operation.

Phyllis Bolton of Covenant Presbyterian Church helps Pat Clark of Trinity Episcopal Church with slicing up bread in preparation for Noon Lunch at Trinity in Staunton on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

Phyllis Bolton of Covenant Presbyterian Church helps Pat Clark of Trinity Episcopal Church with slicing up bread in preparation for the day’s lunch.

“They didn’t serve every day either,” says Hannah about the early days.

Noon Lunch at Trinity

Ingredients for the beef stew were prepped separately the evening before and then brought in to be joined together in a pot for final cooking.

“Now, we serve a hot meal every weekday,” she continues.

“We are part of the food bank and Feeding America, so we get a lot of our food from the food bank.”

Trinity also no longer stands alone with shouldering efforts of making this program possible.

Noon Lunch at Trinity

Curtis Handy, center, stands in line as he waits his turn to be served a free lunch during Noon Lunch.

 

“We have 14 other groups, mostly churches but also organizations like Office on Youth, that help us in the kitchen,” says co-coordinator Kathy Schneiderman. “They are wonderful volunteers.”

“They all enjoy doing this a great deal, and we are very thankful for them,” she continues.

 

“They each have their designated days that they prepare a meal,” adds Hannah.

“I think it’s a very important service to our community, and our Noon Lunch guests are just so grateful that it is here,” says Schneiderman.

“Food is obviously vital,” says Hannah.

“To know that they can get a hot meal every day,” she continues, “maybe it will give them the strength to carry on throughout the day … to find work, to find a place to be. It’s just amazing.”

Noon Lunch takes place Monday through Friday each week at 11:30 a.m. in the church parish hall at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Noon Lunch at Trinity

Heading up the kitchen for the day, Phyllis Bolton of Covenant Presbyterian Church smiles as she shows how much of the pot of beef stew was eaten by their guests.

 

Some statistics from the past year

  • An average of 153 people were served each week.
  • 9,318 meals were served.
  • There were a recorded 245 new guests utilizing the program

Contact information for Trinity Noon Lunch coordinators:

 

What volunteers do

More than 125 volunteers give over 5,000 hours of service. Here are some of what those volunteers do: shop, plan, cook, clean pick up donations, keep records, write thank-you notes, write reports, supervise the dining area, purchase food and supplies, make donations, as well as serve food and drinks.

Churches and organizations partnering to make Noon Lunch possible include:

Trinity Episocal Church, Anglican Church of the Valley, Central United Methodist Church, Cherryvale United Methodist Church, Church of the Good Shepard, Church Women United, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, Memorial Baptist Church, Office on Youth, Pleasant View Lutheran Church, St. John’s United Methodist Church, Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Staunton Grace Covenant Church, Stuart Hall School, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Kroger, Food Lion and the nursing program at James Madison University.

When and where

Noon Lunch takes place Monday through Friday each week at 11:30 a.m. in the church parish hall at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Click to view PDF of  ‘Noon Lunch’ in The News Leader