Something’s Cooking

Friday, January 27, 2017

A warm bowl of homemade cream of broccoli soup is a tasty treat on a cold winter’s night, which is what Robbie Mitchell (at top) helped make for the free dinner at Brazil First United Methodist Church Wednesday. The other soup on the menu was homemade potato.

Church’s weekly meal serves the area’s hungry

By midweek many people don’t have much cash left over in their budget after paying the bills, which is why one local church has been serving meals each Wednesday for years.

“There are homeless people here in our community, but a person doesn’t have to be homeless to be hungry,” said Lisa McMahon, the administrative assistant at the Brazil First United Methodist Church. “After paying all their bills a lot of people, and families, are strapped for cash to buy groceries. There are people in our community who are dealing with those types of issues, which is what the program is for. There is a great lacking in our community for places where people can go for this type of help.”

People of all ages attend the weekly free meals served in the basement of the facility located at 201 North Meridian Street, Brazil. Sometimes people start lining up before the doors open at 4 p.m. On average, 30-35 meals are served during the 60 minutes the church serves food until 5:30 p.m., with an equal amount of take-out meals provided to people who return home to eat the food.

However most enjoy the atmosphere of the church dining room, with flower arrangements and tablecloths it an easy place to stay and visit with others — and the church volunteers — after dinner.

Some people, according to the organizers of the event, come eat dinner every week and donate to the free community program to keep it going for those in need.

Recently named “Something’s Cooking,” the meal program, which is funded only through private donations, is much more than what people think of as a soup kitchen. Marilyn Bowers is the woman who makes sure the community enjoys a whole dining experience.

Marilyn Bowers and (back) Evelyn Wesner prepare two different types of potatoes for the Wednesday night’s free dinner at Brazil First United Methodist Church. The doors at the church open at 4 p.m., with dinner served from 4:30-5:30 p.m. each Wednesday.

“It’s really about the social interaction, the fellowship while dining,” Bowers said. “That is so very important.”

Capitalizing on her previous catering experience, Bowers plans the hot, nutritionally balanced meal menus which includes dessert, prepares the shopping list, then does the shopping and then gets her five-member volunteer crew early each Wednesday to prepare the food. She also makes sure there are servers and dishwashers.

“She’s the boss woman,” her crew members — Evelyn Wesner, Glennis Grant and Robbie Mitchell — lovingly teased Bowers during the interview this past Wednesday while preparing homemade barbecue pork roast, two soups, fruit salad, dessert and other items for that night’s dinner service.

Glennis Grant prepares a fruit salad for the Wednesday night’s “Something’s Cooking” free dinner. It’s a healthy choice for those eating dinner at the church, but desserts are still available to those who want them.

The jovial work environment provides for a friendly event for everyone involved.

“Getting to know the people, making friendships along the way, is one of my favorite memories of doing this,” said Bowers about being a part of the dinners since 2004. “I like cooking for people. It’s what I’m most comfortable doing. This is an ongoing happy moment for me. Each week has its own special memory.”

The Brazil First United Methodist Church provides free meals to anyone in the community each Wednesday, including holidays. The doors open at 4:30 with free dinners served from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Free-will donations are accepted from those who wish to do so, and checks (with Something’s Cooking noted on the info line) in support of the program can be mailed to the church at 201 N. Meridian St., Brazil, 47834.